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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 caught on to mine quickly. Glad you are rid if him. Trust God

Yes, it is obvious you are being scammed. These scammers always use anonymous ways to get money like itunes cards, amazon cards or payments by Western Union.

Hey, You caught it early. Good job!!

Do not send him anything...He is a fake...If he indeed is an active duty US Marine, He gets his medication for nothing.

Do anyone recognize the name Victor Niel Jr is he a scammer in the us marines

Hi there! Please anyone who had the Dr. Surgeon/ secret agent from forced army/ UNs Syria please send me his picture & I’ll send you mine? Did you also get his ID from US forced army too? Thank you.

Hi Sara, I have pics of a so called UN guy in Syria. Happy to swop pics if you have an email

He said he is a doctor surgeon, a widow, assigned in syria under UN medical mission, no email address, he is using iTunes card, i have a picture of him for comparison, he is also asking money for his ticket back home.

I am talking to a man Carl Breigner says he is from the Netherlands his wife left him and his twin daughters Luna and Lima. He also told me that he had a son that died at the age of 2 from kidney cancer. He even had his daughters email me in how happy they are that their father has finally found someone. He also asked me for 3 iTunes cards because his daughters use them for the games they play. He also communicates with me in hangouts. He now told me that his compensation frothed the company Nexen Petroleum has been settled and he was getting 850000 pounds but he needed someone to take control as his beneficiary and since his daughters are not yet 18 he needs someone to. He told me he loves me sends me beautiful prayers for and songs several times a day. I foolishly believed him about his compensation and sent over a thousand dollars to an attorney in Turkey that his preparing a document that I can mail in to Nexen and the account will be opened in my name. What a jerk I am I sold some jewelry to do this anyone who knows this Carl Breigner please let me know and catch this guy. He says he is a geologist working in an rig for Nexen Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico.

I play scrabble and this same man found me there. He gave me the same story, wanted me to use Hangout but I refused, there was something not right about it all. He pestered me to use Hangout and when I refused he dropped me from scrabble, lucky escape for me.

Dear duped, I just can’t tell you how heartbroken I am right now. Both for you and me. At least I haven’t forked over any money YET. The same guy friended me on words with friends. He told me all the same things exactly! He. Hasn’t gotten around to asking me for money yet but he did make me fall in love with him. I kept thinking it was too good to be true. As a precaution I had a friend investigate for me which led me to this site. I am so sorry that there are cold hearted people out there that would do someone like this. I told myself this was a God thing, that I hadn’t gone looking for someone. Please tell me how we can go about catching this scammer and putting a stop to it before someone else gets hurt.

Duped,

My cousin contacted me about a guy she met on Words with Friends. They've been chatting and she asked me to check him out. His name is Carl Breigner. When I did a search I came upon your post. He has told my cousin almost the same story verbatim. I have contacted Nexen to see if they know of this guy. We would like to help you to catch this guy.

I have been talking to “Carl” since March 2. He told me the exact story. The only difference is he asked for any money yet. The thing that made me suspicious is he said he dropped his phone in the water so couldn’t call me. Said his computer messed up so I couldn’t hear him if he called on hangouts when he tried to call me. Finally at my insistence “he” called me on someone else’s phone. I was out shopping and couldn’t hear him well but I could barely understand what he was saying. I’m not familiar with Dutch accents but I didn’t think it could sound like that. I went home and googled Dutch accents and convinced myself that’s what it sounded like. I told him I was a Christian and he said he was too. In fact we had several conversations about God. He sent me a prayer every morning and a song. Then at night we exchanged love songs. Hr said he wanted to be with me forever even proposed to me but when I called him on it he said he was trying to make me smile but wouldn’t have any trouble proposing to me on his knee when he saw me. He asked me to be a mother to his twins He sent me a picture of them and another of himself, supposedly. I contacted my cousin who is really good at researching people and immediately he found this site with your story.
How long did you text with him before he asked for money? Did you ever hear his voice? I really fell for him. Now I am so disallusioned. I will do whatever I can to help catch him. I haven’t talked to him for 2 days but he keeps texting me saying he is worried about me.

Please respond and let’s catch this jerk!!

I have just made this man's acquaintance...I have spoken to him less than two days but I have been suspicious from the start - he isnt from the Netherlands - I speak Afrikaans which is similar to Dutch and he hasnt the right accent. But he is very persuasive in getting one to talk about ones self...and he is very concerned and so loving. With me he didnt have any children - only being divorced. This is the second day - I have been scammed five times on the site Friends Talk - I wrote to them - they didnt care to reply. Everyone on there is on an oil rig or in the Army in Aleppo somewhere. I fortunately never parted with money or anything - BUT since the bereavement I suffered I was vulnerable. I never thought people could be like this - how utterly naive one can be when one is lost and hurting. Carl's use of grammer is not good and they all use the term 'sweetie'...watch for that. He will not communicate on WhatsApp - I cannot believe this....he is as all of the above say very charming and concerned for your welfare...and when one is hurting that is a balm. I tried to search the photo he sent but came up with nothing - and yes he is on the oil rig one of you mentioned. He has no phone so no whatsapp. The signal is always bad. I am so glad I was able to read what you all said....but I sad for us all because we are probably maturer women...and for whatever reason we look to communicate it is never ok to abuse ones trust in this way.

My mum has been slammed by this man as well £1200 down plus all the iTunes cards she was buying, I've showed her this forum and she said it's because someone has stolen his identity and that he's told her the FBI are investing it for him, me and my sisters don't have a clue on what we am do to make her realise he's just using her for her money

Reading several "Carl Breigner" scammer post from 2018. I've been communication in hangouts with man going by this name also since, January 2019. I've been trying to get as much solid information on him as can to snare him if he is the true face behind a scammer. Many photos of him. Any woman out there please update your post on this man or any other woman who happen to find his name amongst these others. Similar story he has told me but only one daughter underaged & seeks loving mother & life partner. Age 58 from Netherlands, oilrig engineer @ Nexen UKRAINE. Stay aware & safe wonderful ladies it's a crude world & we are all intelligent ladies with kind hearts.

My mum is still being scammed by Carl breigner it has been going on years bow I dread to think how much money he’s had out of her over the years she now has dementia and Alzheimer’s and completely believes he loves her and she’s in love with him

Hi Duped, I was also contacted in Words with Friends by this man. He went by the name of Emerald James. He shared the same story with me. I enjoyed speaking with him, seemed intelligent . I too fell for his lies. I’m still shocked that I was so naive. Yes, let’s catch this thief. Not sure how we can contact each other. The last time he reached out to me was Feb 5,2020. I did not answer him. If it brings you any peace, you are not alone!

I’m almost positive I’m speaking with the same man for 3 months. He’s from Sweden, in Cyprus now on a project needs a computer and money. I’ fell in love with his loving words and beautiful texts. I’m so upset.

I’m almost positive I’m speaking with the same man for 3 months. He’s from Sweden, in Cyprus now on a project needs a computer and money. I’ fell in love with his loving words and beautiful texts. I’m so upset.

I’m almost positive I’m speaking with the same man for 3 months. He’s from Sweden, in Cyprus now on a project needs a computer and money. I’ fell in love with his loving words and beautiful texts. I’m so upset.

my wife died so i started looking for a lady too replace her i met Audrey young from a site and we ended up talking in hang outs she showed interest with me and because we became together there was no need to has more sites so we started too use a verification process which would clean my name from all the sites i some how collected sites i didnt know i had or where they came from anyway this verification was going too cost money too clear my name

i was also told once the verification process was complete that the majority of money i pay would be refunded back to me so i started paying through world remit money heading to the philippines as a curiosity my son in law did a facial recognition test with her and found out she not who she was suppose to be this pic was for a lady called ashley maddison ashley was contacted and her pics and info was taken from my files and this left audrey young as a faceless picture too me she explained too me why she used another identity too protect her self i had fallen in love with this woman nd being lonely with promises that this verification process is over we would meet

i carried on with herstill paying for the verification process as audrey didnt know they paying prcess i was put onto her boss in customer service and it was through customer service who took care of the payments over time audrey herself started paying for some of this verification process to help me and i was told by customer support that she had never done this for anyone before i felt special that she did this too help me so we could do this verification process faster so we could get together so i was beholden to her im still paying not so much for verification but for a release form too release her from a contract binding her too the company she works for i love this lady and in time im learning more and more about her and yet i have no info about her

we have physically talked on hangout video so i do know she is asian via accent and she told me she lives in the philippines i know small details about her life like having 3 ex partners played badmington and music tastes i truly believe that she has fallen in love with me and i with her but she still holds her information from me how does a person find out about the reciever if they not willing too share their details right up to today i dont know if im getting scammed i think i was being scammed at the start but i also fel her love as genuine and that we will meet how can i find out about her?

I am going crazy, I met a man on facebook. He has told me he works for UNICEF in Nigeria. Has told me he loves me and wants to marry me. And all this in about 4 weeks. Yes, I know how foolish I sound. He wants me to send money to help confort starving children and make water safer to drink for this war torn area. His pictures on facebook show him as a white man, and he says he is from Arkansas. I have talked to him on the phone and he does not sound like someone from Arkansas. I feel foolish. What can I do? I know he is not real, but I care now and am lost.

Hester E. These are what are known in Nigeria as Yahoo boys. They spend all their lives creating fake profiles with phony stolen pictures (use tin-eye to do a reverse image search), with the sole aim of making lonely women fall in love with the fake profile. Then, when you are hooked, they invent a reason why you should send money by western union, or itunes and amazon gift card codes.

I'm going to say this because I needed to hear it too:
You don't want to believe it but you know what he is, and you know what to do. If you can't actually verify his story but a quick google or facebook search, if your gut tells you something, go with it. Never send a penny, and don't give out your own personal information until you've met them in person and know they exist, and have proven that they should be trusted. How many times in a conversation do we say "Oh, my doggie __ did the cutest thing today!" Well, "pet's name" is just one security question that can give hackers your information. They don't just want money, they want your info too. When in doubt, cut it out!

I was wondering why this person is in Lagos Nigeria needs me to send him money ifthe reason he went over there was because he got a bid on a contract that took him over there he can’t get a hold to his money over there why do he need me to send him money if that’s his contract for his company ..

Ms Wondering,
Do you by any chance have the name of this person. I am talking to a guy with the similar story. He was bidding on 2 contracts and all of a sudden he got the one for Lagos Niegeria and not happy about. He also took his daughter with him since he has no family to care for her as he is an only child. He hasn’t asked me for money yet.

what name is he using, i believe i am being scammed by him. has daughter in Amsterdam in school, she needed emergency surgery, his account hacked here in states.

Hi I have been talking to this guy in the army who is in Egypt and needs money to get out. Have to send it to nigeria is this a scam or is he telling me the truth

It's a scam....If he is in the US Army, and they decided to put him out, The Army would send him back to his home of record,,,"The place he enlisted at" DO NOT SEND HIM ANY MONEY

Hi. So happy I have found u group of brave women. Was contacted by someone who called himself Lester Smith. We have been chatting by Messenger a few months now. Dec. 2017 - Feb 27 - 2018. His profile said works for US Army lives in Arlington Texas nice picture of him with sunglasses dark black shirt. Has a 13-year-old daughter Alicia whose mother was killed in a car accident six years ago. Claim there was a truck involved and he got off Scott free. Before I knew it he was telling me how much we have in common. He says he is a lieutenant in the army been in there 20 years and is in stationed in Afghanicons flowers romantic scenes. Then yesterday he wanted to know if I would sent him a100.00 Amazon card take a picture of it scratch off the code and message it to him

Ocean one. Is anyone out there have a contact from a guy named Mr. Smith from Arlington Texas been in the army 20 years station in Afghan from Arlington Texas has a 13-year-old daughter’s wife was killed six years ago in a bad car accident thank you. Pinkies trying to scam me

this just happened to me too -- he was able to send a photo of himself and his teammates being deployed to Kobul! Adorable man and loving and he fed exactly into my romance story. These guys are so good. I new right away when he asked for an iTunes gift card to allow calling privalges. So sad they do this to poor romantic women.

Hello If we can’t post pics of these scammers how can we contact each other to compare pictures?

Yes pic with names would be great ..though they can switch it up whenever they want. Very sad

hi my name is mike ive got this so callec women asking for money so she can leave nigeria with all this gold she is using a pitcure of natalie sparks her name is teresa ewing i will never send money but have to say they do make you think but also make a lot of mistakes too

i got a threat from a scammer that theyre gonna hurt me and my family ..because i dint want marry some girl scammer

Is anyone talking to a Richard Watkins on Facebook. Says he's there in Nigeria since the terror attack etc. There's a pic of him holding a dog whom he calls dean

Someone please respond-I have a gentleman, a dr with the UN, who is in Syria communicating with me. We have been chatting for a while, of course he loves me. He doesn't want me to send anything, but does wish to send me something, but I am very worried, as it must be "delivered" by a diplomat of the UN. Help! Can someone please respond to me?

Some people have written comments here telling stories about scammers who say they will send packages containg cash, gold, jewels or other valuable goods.

The scammers said the package was on its way, but then people got a call or message from a "delivery service" or "customs agent" who says the package is being held. The "agents"  demand a costly fee, tax, penalty, etc. before they would release the package.

If you don't want to chat with someone, you can block them and stop communicating. If an online love interest asks for money or favors, you may be dealing with a scam.

That just happen to me this July from United Kingdom telling me he sending me a package took pictures and sent it to me also I asked me to 750 dollars to agent in ny and the guy name is Joseph lon

Coastalqueen please please Google and read up on these scammers they send fake documents. Trust ur instincts call him out and block him don't give out personal information! !!!

Be very careful. I will say no thank you if I was you.

I am now talking to a dr orthopedic surgeon over in Yemen, he goes by natty Sean, anyone know him? He had a pic on Facebook with his dog when I first met him, but then when he wanted me to use the Whatapp, he took it down, we’ve only been talking about 3 weeks but of course he fell I love with me, I’m 10yrs older then him and he had sent me love songs and we text each other everyday, he also has a son that he says the UN pays for his kids upkeep, and of course he drives a Lamborghini!!! We were suppose to meet after his contract is up with the UN, in a few months, but I was actually ready to fall in love with him, but then today he asked me to get him an iTunes card and send it to him, he’s a dr for Christ. Sake, but he says all his money is tied up in U.S. never thought I would ever be scammed, but today just proved to me that there is all kind of shameful people out there, haven’t sent him any money, and don’t plan to,I’m a new widower and was looking for someone to share my life with, can’t trust anyone out there,

I was talking to a lady on Instagram and she told me she was dying of breast cancer and wanted me to be her benificerary of her five million dollars heritance and had me contact the country fidelity bank which told me I had to sign for documents that releases the money to me but I had to pay 750 for transfer I feel this is a scam why would I have to pay for an inheritance oh the money is five million dollars Brinda

100% guarantee this is a scam. I got the same email.

I have been contacted by several accounts claiming to be The Crown Prince of Dubai. They all start off the same, by introducing themselves and by telling me of my beauty. After about 2 weeks they are in love and they want me to prove how good my heart is. Well, they all want me to make a donation to the African orphanage. I asked for name of foundation, because I was will to donate to the organization but never an individual. Well they sat the only way to donate is through western union and money gram. Well I said if it's legitimate organization, then I void pay online, and of course that answer didn't go over well. Well no money was sent.

This same person talked with me a while ago but he is not real person only wants money even told me him and his dad would come pick me up and all lies. Please don’t send anything.

Watch out for a man named david_smith058 on Instagram. Wife died last April. Has daughter, Kathy, works as engineering geologist in gulf if mexico. Claims to live in Texas. Birthday 3/3. Will be 46 and 6'5" very goid looking pictures of self and daughter.when i met him, i didnt have private setting on. He emailed me in instagram and right away insisted on google hangout. I caught on rather quickly. After I agreed to Google hangout. Too many loop holes in wording. Falling for me too quickly.sayung he missed me. Lol, really? So disappointed in the human race. Gid is my shield and protector

I have a friend who met a guy online from Africa, has talked for over a year and he claims to be wealthy and has proposed marriage. She left three weeks ago to go get married and bring him back to the states. She has not been heard from since, all her social media accounts have been closed . Her kids are super worried. We her family and friends are worried and yes we tried to talk her out of it. However when you are in a relationship telling someone looking for love to pull back it begins to weigh on your friendship. If you have or is going through something similarly please advise. Not sure which way to turn now she brought a one way ticket so law enforcement is saying she left without a trace on purpose.

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