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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 — 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


What does his pictures look like

Im at a loss, and need help.I believe my mom is being scammed from a formed relationship stemming from eharmony.This man,named Kenneth Laundry, starting wooing my mom through eharmony. Within days his profile dissapeared, and wanted to continue chatting through email. Every email he sent my mom included beautiful poems some about love some spiritual. Within weeks emails stretched into emails,text messages and phone calls. He professed love within a very short time. He said he is a civil engineer, widowed, and has a son who works for the government in Greece. Supposedly he lived in the same town as my mom, but after a few weeks he had to fly to Dubai for work, something about some real estate, building gig. Its been about 6 months and they are still only emailing, texting and phone talks. At one point he had given my mom his address in their town, and my mom sent him a small thinking of you gift, and a man with the same first name called and said wrong person/house. When my mom told him, he never offered up a correct address or reason. Still in Dubai, "working", he has gotten my mom to buy him a brand new exspensive phone through her plan, and has asked a few times for monitary amounts, 1 was really large. Believe me she tried to, by trying to empty her retirement plans, her financial planners shut that down quick. There has been a handfull of times he was wanting to come home or about to but something always came up, like: he met the Sheak of Dubai and was given a gift of a large amount of gold and raw diamonds and needed money to pay to allow him to travel back with them, another time he was sick, then something for work, then he had his ticket and missed his flight, then detained and arrested at airport for having to much gold. I know my mom has sent him a few thousand dollars already. I truely believe he is an internet romanance scammer, but my mom is convinced he is the real deal, no matter how many stories Ive shown her of the same stories and reasons other people have gone through. I have searched the few photos he has sent her and found nothing. I have and also a fraud specialist through her financial planner have tried to find info on this guy and nothing, yet my mom still thinks he is true. I dont know what to say or do to make her wake up and see the truth.

Hi I have the same experience. Im wondering how we can communicate out of here. I have pics and videos. Same scheme. The guys sound believable. He is still in dubai now. I have bis dubai number,we are communicating in whatsapp. Is there a way to reach you Private eye?

Hello. I have spent almost a year corresponding and being manipulated by Thomas Downs. He is very handsome, in his 50's...almost the same story. I too have photos and can find nothing. I hired a PI he too can find nothing. Please, I plead with you to be in touch so we can stop this person. Your Mom was snowed by this person as was I. So very sad and disappointing. I pray to hear from you all so we can stop him from hurting anyone else.

I too am avictim

Do u have pics o thunk my mil is being scammed

I hope we can compare photos of this man. How can we communicate? We need to stop him.

Thomas Richard - sirrichard 5000@ gmail .com - same story- widowed -wife dies in car accident has 15yr old daughter that needs a mommy- charming as a snake- sent pictures of his daughter and email address (which I believe was just another one of his); spills on the love and charm, calling you sweetheart, baby- the I love you- now come on how can one fall for the BS so fast- sends youtube love songs- talks like we are all going to be a family after his 6 month contract on a rig in Holland,is up, blah blah...and then bam- send me $200 on ITunes! Don't fall for the snack in the grass - he is quite good! And whoever identity is stole is really good looking!

Sounds similar to my gentleman. 15 yr old daughter in boarding school. Wants to give her a mom ASAP. He sent his.daughters email address so you can get to know your new daughter. He is on a contract with an oil co and wants to plan our wedding as soon as he getts home. The pictures is a handsome man in his early 50s

I guy has said the same thing to me
Daughter in boarding school England
Wants his daughter to have mom
He is on Oil Rig in Alaska
name John Michael William

I am not sure but has anyone come across a Dalton Benoit from Santa Monica Ca. Claims he is an Civil engineer in Dubai. asking for Itunes for his sick dog? Strange and he lost his wife in 2014. no kids, not so sure if he is real?

Hi. I recently met a Dalton Benoit online. Same story, widowed on 2014, no kids, civil engineer, works in Culver City. Claims to be falling for me but I don't believe him. We have only been texting a week. Seems fishy to me. Are you still conversing with him? I have not met him not has he asked to meet. I am not convinced he is legit.

Green eyes. Stay away he is a professional scammer and he owes people thousands of money I'm on his real to get him caught. He keeps moving around alot. He has lied to me and others cause that is what he does. He owes me 40 k he stole from my banking acct and left me high and dry .
Stay far away from this dude he is in Nigeria not California and he is not an engineer.

Hi Cdtampa2008, I have been talking to this guy for the past 7 months, through text and on the phone. I would be interested to know what you found on him, he has just vanished now!!!!

I wish I had read these before getting scammed. I met Frank Land on Words with Friends. We chatted some and then he wanted to go on Hangouts. I was already on Hangouts. Within a week or two he said he loved me. He is a widower with a 11 year old daughter. He said his wife and son died several years before in an accident. He then needed a ITunes card. I was stupid and sent him one. He said he would pay me back. I am married and was upset with my husband. Frank made me feel special. Well I sent a nude picture of myself to him. I wish I hadn't. I gave him my cell phone number. He would text me. He asked for another ITunes card for $100.00. Said his daughter needed it for school. I said I didn't have any money. He said he worked on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. His daughter stayed with his aunt. Well recently, he asked for $2,500.00. I told him I didn't have that much. Nothing even close. He said he would call my husband and ask him to help. He supposedly had called my husband before asking if I was okay. He would text me that if I didn't answer right back he would call my husband to see how I was doing. He didn't like I couldn't give $2,500.00. Well he texted my husband and said he had some information about someone in his family and wanted money for the information. My husband called me and asked me to look up a number. I told my husband I had been chatting with a guy and that he was blackmailing me. We talked after I got home. He said he lost trust in me. I told him I was sorry. I was told by the police not to respond to him and don't give any money. I have deactivated my Facebook. The guy said he was going to put the pictures on Facebook. The guy the other day texted me and asked me to forgive him. He was confused and frustrated. He said he lost the contract for the company. He said he needed the money to fly home to go to his company and get the money from them to finish the project on the oil rig. I hope he gets caught.

Also, I met David Dani, Teddy Douglass, Ryandavis on Words with Friends. I have deleted that app on my phone.

I think I been scams friend of my have been talking to for months, got caught trying to smuggle gold out of Ghana, the police say they have my address and I need to pay 5,000 dollars or they coming to lock me up....can they do thst

That phone call could be a scam.

Find the non-emergency phone number for your local police. Call and ask if they are coming to arrest you. Tell them about the phone call.

Has anyone been scammed by a James Mark Leo?

James Mark Leo contacted me on Words with friends. He has been attempting to get to know me hard. He says he’s in the army. I asked how long and he said 24 year. If you add 24 to 18 that would make him 42. The dude looks 67. He asked me what’s the worst thing that has happened to me online texting? Now I can answer, “Being scammed by Catfishes!”

Has any meet a man that goes by Alexander Hall that is stationed in Nigeria working with the UN. He will talk for months and then start asking for gift cards, tokens, and now my bank account info. I have said no and he continues to talk to with my I have blocked him from Facebook where we mostly talk but he will then create a new profile and start talking to me again

I met an Alexander Hall on Words with Friends. He keeps chatting and I have told him he’s a scammer and keeps denying it. He is a captain in the army and his wife and two children were killed in a car crash.

Hello Bridget, I had been helping a man in Dubai who said he needed money for shipping cost for his gold in Dubai. The shipping company sent me an email asking for a copy of my drivers license fromt and back. I like an idiot sent it. What can I do now. Who can I report this too. I live in Phoenix Az?

The scammer might use your personal information to commit identity theft. Here is a list of clues that someone is using your information.

You could also order a free copy of your credit report. Check the report for errors, or new accounts that you did not open or other unusual activity. This FTC article explains how to order your free credit report.

Does anyone know Coleman Powell he says he is in the army and is stationed in somala east of Africa

I was talking to a guy named Christopher Kevin.Hehe is from Texas who work as a petrolium/gas engineer and owns a construction firm.
He asked me to communicate through email and we were exchanging photos.I trusted him and almost fall for him.
I just realized that he is a scammer when he asked me to help him in Netherlands because his passport was confiscated in the custom because he needs to pay the products he bought from China.He even sent me a letter from the custom,Netherlands. He asked me to help him raised 5000Usd and even encouraged me to get a loan.
I never send him though but i feel like I was so foolish for talking to a big scammer.

Hi, I believe I have been a victim or romance scam too. I have just now started to read everything on the net about it, and I am quite shocked I must say. However, your information helped me so much...I am still looking for my next steps, I believe it is my duty, despite my feelings of embarrassment and humiliation to help other women...can I report the scam? I am sorry, this is all so new to me.

Do anyone write with a guy named Dimitri Rhodes?

Yes. You too?

I have been talking to a guy named Michael Smith he is supposedly Italian lives in New Jersey but traveled to Nigeria to do a job building roads he caught me in the middle of the night said his plane landed and the airport lost his luggage his documents passport and money.He said his wife was killer in a car wreck four years ago and has One son he is wanting thousands of dollars in iTunes cards he has now supposedly been a Nigeria for three months we have spoken on the phone several times his accent is very very heavy

I have been talking to this guy for two and a half months now Bruce Gillard says he's a widower has a daughter in the Air Force his mother is passed away while we've been talking but he's some kind of broker for an investment firm he's been in Dubai the UK and now he's asking me to open up a bank account in my name overseas because he is retiring from his job and he's made an investment in order for him to get them vestment he is done he'll have to put it into a bank account that's not in his name so he wants me to put it into my name so totally confused don't know what to do

Some scammers use people to help them transfer stolen money. They develop online relationships and ask their new sweetheart to use their own bank account, or open a new account and accept a deposit.

Then the scammer asks the victim to transfer money. If you help a scammer do this, your name is on the bank account and your name is on the money transfer paperwork. If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.

The one I dealt with asked me to "receive" a personal belongings package prior to his arrival. (He never showed up). I have heard horror stories of the personal belongings sent ahead being something illegal that can put YOU in jail. Do not give them your address! It's the way the.loosers make a living.

Bridget, what if we received the money and keep it on the account incased found out that he is really part of fraud/scam? Since the money is already transferred what can the scammer do after that if i dont cooperate? What action i should do? The man that i am chatting now has asked for help to pay food and hotel bills in Malaysia, he said his acct was hacked and his bank hold his account due to that, he asked if i can send money i said no, then he asked if i can receive wire money and how much max and if i can also transfer it? i am having doubts and dont know what to tell him next, but i dont want him to feel that. what if he is for real and not a scammer? what if he is telling the truth?

Some scammers use people to help them transfer stolen money.

They meet people online, create a relationship, and ask their new sweetheart to use their own bank account, or open a new account. Then the scammer asks you to receive money and transfer it for him.

If you do this for a scammer, your name is on the bank account and on the money transfer forms. If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.

Also, some scammers send bad checks for people to deposit. You think you have a large deposit, so you withdraw money and wire money to help the scammer. But it can take time for a bank to find out that a check is fraudulent. If you withdrew before the bank discovered that the check was no good, you lost all the money you sent. You must repay the bank all the money you withdrew.

I get a lot of guys messaging me through Instagram. After reading your comments above, I think I have just avoided three scammers in quick succession. One asked to go to Hangout straight away and the other two wanted my Whatsapp. One said he was an American Engineer but I feel his English was too poor. He didn’t take time to ask general get to know you type questions but went straight to professing his love pretty much. Even telling them you are married has no effect. When I told him I thought he was a Nigerian scammer he suddenly got angry at which point I blocked him. Names. Donald Eric, Adamson 2257, and Alex William.

Adamson also known as James Adamson from Ohio. He asked to add me on Whatsapp after initial contact on Instagram and I tried but luckily my phone wouldn’t accept this number. I told him this and he messaged today saying “Goodbye!”. If he truely wanted to be friends he wouldn’t say goodbye in this matter. He is extremely good looking in his pictures but lacks any genuine comments from friends on his pictures. I think they only set up the bare minimum on Instagram just to get started. Alex William or AW1512097 is the worst. Quite agressive when you call him a Nigerian scammer.

I don't know those two-but recognize the WhatsApp is popular & Instagram pick-ups are too. I replied to one guy on INSTAGRAM & he wanted to go straight to WhatsApp. I didn't & he wanted straight gmail email, he hooked me with his intelligence. Supposed to b on an Oil Rig off London in the North Sea. He only communicated through gmail since his Finnish has to b translated to English & gmail does that. He sought me out since July 2017 & I never replied back on Instagram till Jan. He zoomed right in for the heart strings & never mentioned $ till about 5 weeks. He insists I have to pay HIS travel agent 3500 so "we" can meet. He's very angry at this point, since I flatly refuse sending $. I am so sorry I let my guard down. Heartbroken to know he has to b a scanner. Nothing but love words fast & when no $ sent to his travel agent------his endearing love (yeah right) is filled with disgust & angry words. Sound familiar to anyone you or anyone here knows? John mike, Finnish speaking, with a deceased wife.


I have been talking to a man for a long time,i have been totally stupid and at times I had a gut instinct that he was scamming me, but I convinced myself that he was real. I have lost thousands to this man. He is supposedly us military stationed in Nigeria and was always needing money to get home, get special food, internet access, etc. He said he didn't set up his bank account right before he left for Nigeria, so he had no access to his money. He told me his name is Paul Nemeth and in the beginning he was having me send money in his name which is why I was so convinced, now he is asking me to send to other names. I am totally in love with him but I am done being blind. There have been others as well. .

My name is Renee and I believe we are speaking to the same person and I am so sorry as I am in love as well. The person I speak to is Thomas Downs and I cannot locate any additional info on line. I plead with you to be in touch with me.

My name is Renee and I believe we are speaking to the same person and I am so sorry as I am in love as well. The person I speak to is Thomas Downs and I cannot locate any additional info on line. I plead with you to be in touch with me. BTW, he has sent me money, flowers, jewelery, etc and I was just arrested!!!!

My goes by the name of James Michael Kelly US Navy and he wants me to send him $400 to get his paperwork to be released. He is supposable deployed in Afghanistan keep an eye out

Boy they are on FB as well. Watch out for this guy Victor Anderson. Says he is from Romania but currently in UK. He says he is a ship captain. His wife died in a car accident. Has a daughter. He will quickly ask you to get on whatsapp so that they can chat and then will ask you for money.
We really really need an option where we can post pictures here.

Has anyone spoken to a man named John Edmonston I. The army in Kabul, Afghanistan? He wants me to give him all my bank account info, including my security questions. He says he was going to deposit money into my account for the orphans in Kabul and donate it to them. And that a diplomat will pick up the money from me. I told him that I don’t do any banking online and I won’t give my bank info to him online. I asked him where he banks at and I would go in personally and he said that won’t work. So, he got no info from me.

Has anyone spoke to a Jonathan wilsmore he tells me he is from Austria he has a daughter named Mary she is with his mom his wife died 5 years ago while giving birth to Mary he is a on tractor also working on a oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico and he supposedly has a apartment in Baltimore

Anyone, girl named fabienne Grenier from ivory coast who says her father died and needs help getting his land in her name. Anyone?

Hi. Did you encountered the name JEFFERSON GARCIA? I'm really curioused with him. He said he is oil reg engineer,he add me on my Instagram and were chatted now in google hangouts. And he is in Dubai he said. And now his asking me 2500 dollars because his materials seized in Dubai custom. If he can't pay that amount he bring to jail as he said. I don't really believed him.

You people haven't seen anything yet!

Hi has anyone ran into a guy with a German accent says his name is Lukas Robinson and he's currently stuck in Turkey. First he left his debit card home. Second he got detained at the airport third he got robbed twice. He's on a few dating sites.

Hi Lucy, i just saw this. I met this guy about 3 months ago during quarantine on weworld app. He is a scammer! Lukas Robinson has a number from the US. He said he is half german, half american and the works for an Oil company in Jacksonville, Florida. His accent is more like a person from the middle east. Really good loking in the pictures he use (blue eyes and blonde hair). The way that he use to scam people is asking for google app store cards. He creates different stories and he is really intense by asking you to send him money when you say NO. Be careful girls!


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