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Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money

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Image of cupid and heartNot everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly. And they tug at your heartstrings with made-up stories about how they need money — for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. Why all of the tricks? They’re looking to steal your money.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, romance scammers are now involving their victims in online bank fraud. Here’s how it works: The scammers set up dating profiles to meet potential victims. After they form a “relationship,” they come up with reasons to ask their love interest to set up a new bank account. The scammers transfer stolen money into the new account, and then tell their victims to wire the money out of the country. Victims think they’re just helping out their soulmate, never realizing they’re aiding and abetting a crime.  

Here are some warning signs that an online love interest might be a fake. They ask you to:

  • chat off of the dating site immediately, using personal email, text, or phone
  • wire money using Western Union or Money Gram
  • set up a new bank account

Did you know you can do an image search of your love interest’s photo in your favorite search engine? If you do an image search and the person’s photo appears under several different names, you’re probably dealing with a scammer. And if the person’s online profile disappears a few days after they meet you, that’s another tip-off.

Here’s the real deal: Don’t send money to someone you met online — for any reason. If your online sweetheart asks for money, you can expect it’s a scam.

Unfortunately, online dating scams are all too common. There may be tens of thousands of victims, and only a small fraction report it to the FTC. If this happens to you, please report it at ftc.gov/complaint — click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams.

A woman looking at a dating site on her computer.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit
Scam Tags:  Romance Scams

Comments

I think my sister is being scammed by a George Hunter, claims to be an oil contractor recently working in Russia. Has anyone heard of him.

I have the same siutation, i wanna warn the guy whose photo got stolen but couldnt find any. But i reported to police. Its spreading among Asia

The man I met on internet is a mystery. He is strong and rugged. Never married. He likes working on computers. I would like to think he is real. He says he wants to meet me. He is not in the states. Should I keep my guard up? When do we know that he could be ok.

I have just received this . Is it a scam please.
Hello honey how are you doing. Baby have contact my bank concerning my finance to be able to complete with my business here and come back home to you, but unfortunately they can’t do anything because I am supposed to be there due to so much security on my account. And also it’s my personal account so I have to be home to be able to control or withdraw money. But if they can help me then I must make a power of attorney to someone I can trust who can handle my money as in being my beneficiary and they could make wire transfer to such person on my behalf but it must not be outside the country but within the country or development country such is Europe,Asia,uk..I have thought very well about it and it’s only you I can trust so I have decided to write a power of attorney letter to my lawyer home and also to my bank with your name as my wife to be and also my next of king.This way my money will be transferred into your account then you can finance me with what I need here.all I want you to do for me is to understand and be willing to help me take this money from my bakers. Please this is the least you can do to help me here. I am not worried giving you my money because I do trust you and I love you so much.

This looks like a message from someone asking you to be named as his wife and accept money into your bank account.

You said you just received it, so I think this is not really from your husband or from someone you know. It looks like a scam.

Some scammers want to transfer stolen money, but they don't want to get caught with their name on the account. They find people online and ask their new friend to do a big favor and accept a deposit and transfer money for them. If you get involved with a scheme like that you could lose money and personal information. You could get into legal trouble.

Why are you all sending these Scammers Money, I'm talking to one and he has yet to ask me for Money, so far he said he is lacking nothing, But we have good Chatting and Emails so I'm going to ride this out and the minute he cross the line he will be deleted.

I wonder if Jack Smith and Coleman Alston are one of the same? At first I was talking with Jack Smith then he had me go out to hangout and his name changed to Coleman Alston. Is that fishy? He tells me he is out to sea and has no way to get to his funds and had asked me for itune cards or a vanilla card? Really?

I had 3 separated occasions on Facebook that 3 men try to scam me. 1st guy is Micheal Hilton he claim he is half Caucasian and half Latino and his job is Petroleum Engineers and he is a widow. that he want to get to know me because he have fallen for me. I did a reverse image search and found out he was using another guy picture, so I contacted the other person to let him know scammer are using his pictures. The 2nd scammer goes by Lee Bill Nguyen a Vietnamese single father who wife left him and they daughter a long time ago. In his profile he use to use the name James but later change it to Lee bill Nguyen. He is a business man that deal with uncut stone and has a daughter name Crystal. He claim he live in North Carolina, but when I ask what time it would be and he told me a 4 hours ahead time when North Carolina is just 3 hours ahead of me. The last clue i knew Lee is a scammer is he actually live in africa. The 3rd scammer he goes by the name James Nguyen a music teacher from Vietnam that is 47 years old. Who wife died from skin cancer and he is in west Africa on a business trip to buy gold to resell in the U.S. I actually fall for him. He had picture a couple pictures of him self and a group picture of him drinking with friends. We chatted for 2 days and he had fallen in love with me already and he talk about wanting to meet my parents so I just block him. A month later I decided to unblocked him thinking he would forget about me already. Surprise surprise Jan 19 James find me on messenger and ask how was I doing and decided to give him a chance to get to know me. He was the same way even more worse then before. He told me he had gift for me and that he in Africa that why he lost contact with me, but I told him I block you because you were creepy. He just tell me things like I mean everything to him and that he want to get married with me and how much he love me. After I told him I be his gf and I told him I love him. That is when I realized I was being scam he ask for me to lend him 1000 dollars so he can transfer the money to the gold agent so I told him to sell his kidney to the black market in Africa. He would pay me back in double because he have a million dollar in his account but lost his debit card. He even try to get me to send him my credit card because he was supposed to come home but was robbed so he need my credit card to come back to me. I told him no the card need to be under his name not mine and I sent him a application for a credit card lol. He all giving me this crap about how I don't love him anymore and he does not want to come home to me anymore. I also told him he don't need a credit card just call your family and friend for money. When he knew that am not giving my credit card to him he ask for my number. I wrote back your not even from the United States are you and he block me right away.

Please be careful. I was sucked in to a fake relationship the past few weeks, luckily I didn't fall for it. He used the name Brian Stone, he said he was a lieutenant with the US Army. He gave me a story about how his wife had died five years ago and he was just attempting to date for the first time. If you look at the classic scamming definitions we played right into it. He wanted to email off the dating site right away and he fell in love with me quickly. He wrote all the right things at all the right times. Then he asked for money, he said he didn't want to get me involved but he needed money to come home and he couldn't send it directly so he needed someone in the states to send it for him. I was to contact someone at the email address derek.j99 @yahoo.com, I never did. I told him I was not comfortable with the situation and I have not heard form him since. Just be aware, he uses the email address stonebrian44 @gmail.com as well as brianstone111 @yahoo.com.

A guy using the name of Frank Strait from Arizona, Ohio, Brazil and Sweden is scamming women. His picture is not him of course but a gorgeous Swede. I talked to him and his accent is deep African like Nigeria. Said he went to Brazil on business and got robbed and wanted me to send him $4267. I told him no of course as I knew he was a con. Ladies, please be aware of a Frank Strait or Frank Straits. Big time con.

Sounds like the same scammer he was working in brazil got robbed and needed me to send him money his name was paul james i called his job were he suppose to work in Oklahoma and they sent him to brazil his work said they do not know him and they do no work out of the country confronted him and he deleted his facebook

why are people talking bad about me here.. I saw my email n was accused of scamming a woman of $5000. i dont know who this woman is. Pls FTC verify your information

Does anyone know of a Michael Luna who states he is a doctor in Afghanistan and does not have access to his account. His wife died. One son named Roland. He fell in love very fast. Wanted me to take on Roland as if he were my own. Never married. He asked me to send funds for Christmas. Knowing my financial status is not that good either. Anyway nothing was sent. Michael kept being persistent and tried to make me feel guilty. I notice he liked talking on Hangout. He said not to call him directly because of the nature of where he is at and all that he could get into trouble. He said his boy was malnourished in a boarding school. But as I was reading about boarding schools not all are that bad not saying they are good for children what choices does one have when father is always away. I just felt uncomfortable the way he pressured me in sending money and did not give me one word edgewise on my financial situation and I had asked for receipts. Like if I were to send money I would like receipts for support, right. Well he did not like that. He said that he had his phone to look up his friends special friends. blah, blah. I blew him off. Too me he was more snotty and he dresses up in his picture with flowers.

Tip offs it's a scam: working in the military (really, at 50+) overseas, engineers on oil rigs, doctors working in foreign countries. etc. Usually has a deceased wife and children living back home that need money. Showering you with poetry and messages of undying love, asking for your bank account number, etc. They can't fool me.

I had 3 separated occasions on Facebook that 3 men try to scam me. 1st guy is Micheal Hilton he claim he is half Caucasian and half Latino and his job is Petroleum Engineers and he is a widow. that he want to get to know me because he have fallen for me. I did a reverse image search and found out he was using another guy picture, so I contacted the other person to let him know scammer are using his pictures. The 2nd scammer goes by Lee Bill Nguyen a Vietnamese single father who wife left him and they daughter a long time ago. In his profile he use to use the name James but later change it to Lee bill Nguyen. He is a business man that deal with uncut stone and has a daughter name Crystal. He claim he live in North Carolina, but when I ask what time it would be and he told me a 4 hours ahead time when North Carolina is just 3 hours ahead of me. The last clue i knew Lee is a scammer is he actually live in africa. The 3rd scammer he goes by the name James Nguyen a music teacher from Vietnam that is 47 years old. Who wife died from skin cancer and he is in west Africa on a business trip to buy gold to resell in the U.S. I actually fall for him. He had picture a couple pictures of him self and a group picture of him drinking with friends. We chatted for 2 days and he had fallen in love with me already and he talk about wanting to meet my parents so I just block him. A month later I decided to unblocked him thinking he would forget about me already. Surprise surprise Jan 19 James find me on messenger and ask how was I doing and decided to give him a chance to get to know me. He was the same way even more worse then before. He told me he had gift for me and that he in Africa that why he lost contact with me, but I told him I block you because you were creepy. He just tell me things like I mean everything to him and that he want to get married with me and how much he love me. After I told him I be his gf and I told him I love him. That is when I realized I was being scam he ask for me to lend him 1000 dollars so he can transfer the money to the gold agent so I told him to sell his kidney to the black market in Africa. He would pay me back in double because he have a million dollar in his account but lost his debit card. He even try to get me to send him my credit card because he was supposed to come home but was robbed so he need my credit card to come back to me. I told him no the card need to be under his name not mine and I sent him a application for a credit card lol. He all giving me this crap about how I don't love him anymore and he does not want to come home to me anymore. I also told him he don't need a credit card just call your family and friend for money. When he knew that am not giving my credit card to him he ask for my number. I wrote back your not even from the United States are you and he block me right away.

I think when these men fall in love all at once without meeting you and really getting to know you that gut feeling should set in. Its not normal falling in love like that and then ask for support from you. Also I got to the point when they ask I ask for receipts then they back off. I block them anyway. They are running rampant on Facebook. I reported 2 already. I also check who their friends are and it seems like mostly women. I also check their likes and their interests. To me it checked out they are trouble. Stay on guard if you choose to find him online.

Does anybody recognize this? He says his name is Bruno Victor from Houston. Work´s on ConocoPhillips as engineer..

I've been talking to a guy who claims he's an Engineer, Braden Alton and he's an orphan. Has an 8 yr. daughter and lost his wife about 6 years ago. He said he won the bid to work in Turkey, but that customs had seized all hsi equipment and papers so he's stuck there. Now he's asking me for the name of my bank so he can have Santander Bank send me a check in my name so I can cash it for him and put it in an account in his tour guides name. He sounds so desperate but I don't know if it's a scam. He sent me a copy of his passport which I don't know is legit.

That could be a scam. When criminals want to send and receive stolen money, but don't want to use their own names, they get someone else to do the dirty work.

They might start an online relationships and ask their new friend to accept a deposit, cash it and then transfer money for them. If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.

He’s fake! I was scammed by this same guy with the same scenario and his daughter is in boarding school in the UK and she need money to travel with her school. He asked for $700 for her birthday and travels with her school. He was unable to send her any funds because all of his money was tied up with his project in Turkey and his equipment was held at customs. He sends pictures all the time and sounds legit but desperate because he’s going to lose his project to the locals. I did wire his daughter some funds but I found out the bank rejected the transfer because of a new code that the UK needed to process so I lucked out. He got really irate and told me to send the funds western union. I blocked him afterwards.

Yes, exactly same story but different name. He claimed his name charles erik walter and his daughter name is joanne. From Houston.

My gram has been in a scam relationship for 4 years and now knows it and still communicating she has sent him almost all of her money monthly and now is waiting on a settlement for my deceased grandfathers death this man is sending photos that is of the latino and white older man named Scott Adkins on hangouts originally contacted her via fb same scam stories about the engineer and he is still contacting her claiming he just loves her etc I have multiple photos of this man the last receipt was to a Joanne Reading in Northern Ireland , Great Britain I'm hurting trying to figure out how to really catch him and end this please help me and please anyone reading this if you're being contacted by this group of people it is a scam and I'm praying that they stop this is just not right

His email is boltdrive limited@ yahoo. com?

Charles erik walter ?

Any one heard of a sofia wells? She says she needs 350$ if I wanna see her cuz of her job, said her boss won't let her leave, claims she will pay me back, stated that she is staying in a hotel near me and what not, made a mistake of trading photos and she's trying to blackmail me with that

Anyone being scammed by a US General that goes by the name Philip Breedlove? If so, could you share your story? I think my mom is being scammed but she won't believe me when I try to show her all the red flags.

You may want to show your mother this article about romance scams from the US Army Criminal Investigation Division. This Army also created a list of red flags used by scammers. It says, for example: A general officer will not be a member of an internet dating site.

Does anyone know a Sargeant James Wright? He's on Instagram targeting women for money

I have one now called Mark Justice. States he lives in NY but goes to work each day in Texas. Went to a prominent school. I clicked o. The school,its a real school but in Nigeria. Lol.

I've noticed many scammers do "contract" work out of the country. I'm amazed at the difficulties these guys get into while doing their "job" and what's even more amazing is their "frozen" bank accounts since they are out of the country and I'm the only person who can help with the thousands they need for (fill in the blank: equipment, hospital bill, taxes, etc.)

Yes. Mine claimed his name is charles erik walter

Please tell me more about your charles walter. My mother is being scammed by someone calling himself charles walter

I am feeling very foolish & confused right now. Met a man on the internet dating site. Said he was from Chicago Collins Alberto (Italian), very heavy accent. Said all the right things, widowed, etc. Now after 3 weeks chatting he wants money cause hes in Sweden on business & his passport was confiscated for not paying the proper taxes for a shipment. Pulls at your heart strings cause this is terrible for him blah, blah blah. Did not send the money & will block him on my phone. What a schmuck.

Can anyone tell me if they heard of a name Brittany Andy? She claims to be in the army deployed in Syria. Tells me she is on a peace mission and cant get back til i send her money to get home. I feel i have been duped by her for 2 years of lies!!

Dude, She is a scammer...If she is in the Army deployed anywhere, the Army will send them back... It is pure BS

I have been talking to a man named ben he has asked me for itune cards and wants me to set up a money marketing account says he loves me wants to marry me but really wants this account set up.... have searched his pictures is of some other man who has a family and kids

I fell in love with a scammer named Brian Alexander, aka/ Brian, aka nanayaw boateneg on Words with Friends on Facebook. He sweet talked me extremely well and had some strange power over me. I lost about $1,000 to him while trying to figure out if he was real or not. I needed to see if the money request would stop but they went on with no more from me. He was a contractor whose final contract was in Ghana Africa. He would retire after that and settle down. He missed meeting with me in person twice. His last requests were for money to pay doctor bills as he had been in an automobile accident on his way to the airport to come home. Said he lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This all lasted for about three months. It's sad that we women need to hear all the wonderful things these liars tell us. It is an experience I will never forget.

I have one from a dating sight that started asking for $50-$100 Apple iTunes gift cards for software purchases for his work he’s on contract for in the Philippines but claimed he lives in New York. Wife passed away two years ago and has two children. Has a very thick accent and says he’s half Italian. Any of this sound familiar to anyone? Let’s compare names given! His face pics I had no luck on, his name I had no luck on, but his “private” pic shows it’s a copy being used for a while now.

I think I’ve been talking to the same man for 3 months. Professes his love.

This guy uses the name Edwin Richard Miller he is a scammer, beware

I have been talking to a Sergeant Dave John Jordan online. After friending him on F/B he asked me to download an app called Hangouts. Its a private texting app.He said he has to be careful because the military does not want them on FB. @ weeks into chatting with him he began to tell me that he really appreciated the prayers and devotions I sent him. Then he said he was in love with me. He sent me pictures of his two kids and a picture of his military badge. On valentines day he sent me flowers. He wanted to get a phone but he said he could not purchase a phone in Kabul Afghanistan. So he gave me a contact to send 1000 dollars to in the UK to purchase a phone for him. He still does not have a phone 3 weeks later. Always a good excuse why. Then he told me he was sending his medals and military documentation to me to keep safe for him as he will be retiring in March. Then I get a phone call and many emails saying that the package is being held up in customs at JFK airport because of the gold in the package. Evidently this is against custom law to ship gold from there to US. So the courier company Glopexpress tells me that I have to pay a 7500 tax fine in order to get this package. I am freaking out

Your situation has some warning signs that the person could be a fake. He asked you to chat off of the dating site immediately, using an app. He asked you to send money to buy him a phone.

The US Army has an article with a list of warning signs of scammers who pretend to be soldiers. The article says that "Soldiers do not find large sums of money and do not need your help to get that money out of the country." The article also says that the scammers often say they "cannot talk on the phone or via webcam due to security reasons, or tell you they will send you something (money, jewelry) through a diplomat."

Ignore it...It's fake Plus the Army does not restrict the use of Facebook... No Soldier would send his military documentation anywhere, because they don't have it,,,,It's kept on base or if he's deployed, at the base he's deployed from....Don't send any money to GLobal express either,,,tell them to return the package to the sender,,,The "package " doesn't exist..It's part of the scam

I met a guy in Dec 2017 on Coffee meets Bagel dating site.He said he is with the US Army. Deployed to Afghanistan. His mom has passed away and Dad lives in Queens NY. He is the only child. Been in military for 6 yrs and is getting out in Feb 2018. He said his wallet was lost/stolen and has no money to buy food because he is not good with MREs. Than he asked me to trasfer $500 inJan 2018. Later he asked me to open a Bank account for him so that he can have his bonus check sent to my account. In that way I have “access” to his money. When I said I cant help him with money he gave me a whole emotional lecture about how I dont trust him. I did a background check and no one by that name exists.

He refused to have a care package from me saying, his dead mother was the one to send and if he receives a care package after 2 yrs, he will be emotional and unable to work being a unit leader. He never calls me says it would be an insecure call from the base. He pulled away when I said i cant help him financially. All his romance faded. He told me how I was a pearl and would put a ring of me before going to another deployment ti make sure I am his. He said his ex gf brok up with him while he was in Afghanistan and couldn’t do anything about it.

Has anybody heard of the name jerry smith says his daughter lives somewhere in newyork and his wife and son was killed in a car accident please if you have let me know my nana will not believe me that he is a scammer using her for money and promising to come see her and dont

Always start by running a Google image search on the profile photo used in any social media or dating site. Scammers are either too lazy or too stupid to use photos that obviously look fake but we make it easy for them when we don't bother to right click on the photo to see what Google says about it

OK, help with this one! I've done a google search and there's nothing (not even the fake fb profile they set up) except it keeps trying to link his pic to 'beard" and shows pics of guys with beards

I believe my aunt is being scammed too, met a guy on an app, immediately took it to WhatsApp, name is Taylor Hawkins ( And if you Google, is a drummer in the top fighters so you're only able to find info on him) he's from Burbank California, his wife died, he has a 16 year old son in Burbank . He's in the military based in Ghana. Thing is, She's so smitten she won't believe me. She's gonna think I'm trying to ruin her relationship. She plans on quitting her job and moving to the "USA" to be with him

I have recently been scammed as well. It is truly disgusting the extent in which these scammers go to. I had an elderly lady claiming she had cancer state to me that God chose me to help complete her mission in helping those in need. I’ve developed a close relationship with God and so I was easily talked into this. But don’t get me wrong I was still about skeptical. She had a lawyer and even sent me pictures of herself at the hospital. The bank contacted me as well as the lawyer in separate emails. I began to research the bank when a large amount of money was being asked of me. I then decided to directly contact the bank and it was at that moment when the actually bank contacted me and verified that it was in fact a fraud. Very disappointing but an eye opening experience. God is great and it just bothers me how people can use His name in vain to take and steal from people who are just seeking to do good and help others .

I’ve been talking to a guy named Jerry D Freeman . After about a week we talked on the phone. Then he wanted me to send him 500.00 in Itune cards. 4 of them for 125.00 each. I told him no and he got very angry. So I did a google search on the picture and found probably 20 names each on insta gram Facebook twitter snap chat and all different names. He told me his wife passed away 3 years ago and has a son 14 daughter 13. He has a San Antonio phone number Colorado Texas New York and more. Now he is telling me I love you so much sends pomes talks how god put us together he wants to marry me cry ect ect I have now blocked him from phone and all apps. But here is the funny thing I’m married and very happy. Husband said to ignore him and we flagged all accounts. Ladies be careful it is not like the old days. Because I met my husband online 14 years ago.

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