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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

First off I must tell my Story 3 weeks ago I met someone online on a gay dating site he told me he was in Afghanistan and asked if I was willing to leave the site and go to a messenger service like Google Hangouts. What's it no more than a few days later he asked me if I could get him an eye card cuz he can't get music so I bought him a $50 I card cuz I thought. He's one of the boys send it to the army guys they're doing their Duty for the country over this time we talked everyday. We're still talking but the whole thing is he was sending me pictures so after a week or so I decided to scan a main face picture cuz all the other ones nothing came up but finally I got a face picture and I sent it his real name came up his last name is the same he just change the first name so I found out it was real name I decided to go online I found them on Facebook apparently dating girls and so on he's got all kinds of files online that has to do with lifestyle living no different aliases or anything I told him I didn't want to see him anymore cuz I felt it was cam he got upset I even deleted it so I decided to undelete it and he was still waiting there said is he looking for a home and a family to this day I'm still very confused on what's going on we're still talking I told him I'm not sending money or anything like that so he can get that out of his head but he still wants to talk he said the person on the thing was a girl he was with they broke up because she cheated on him in the beginning of the relationship he did explain to me some one another guy broke his heart took his car and sold it out from underneath him I thought that's almost impossible he wasn't married to him I just found out a few days ago after I confronted him with all this he said it was his girlfriend or wife I can't remember but she had cheated on him and that's what he was talking about I don't know what to do I don't want to end it but he says he wants to meet and he's coming home in May should I be worried

Has anyone dealt with Onenira Dreamtym on facebook?

I was talking to Calvin Ryan who works for United Nations Asking for money for his son.Also wanted for me to write UN to apply for his vacation. This man is using pictures of a real Navy Doctor.

I met a David Miller who is a "navy doctor" working over in Somalia for a peace keeping missions. Ask me to request from the UN for vacation. The UN emails me asking for $1500 to process paperwork for the release. Is this a scam?

Hey that sounds familiar. Can you send a photo of that doctor?

200% scam! How can UN charge employee for taking leave?

Anyone any experience with this guy? Please lets compare notes on such a "perfect man" and world traveler. Heartbroken fool---- here and accounted for.

Any one heard of David Luiz petroleum engineer widower from Victoria BC Dutch accent on rig off Alaska asked for itunes card was on POF very in shape 56 years old

John Mike London UK Finnish Oil Rig Contractor whose two-year contract just ended. I can tell my experience later, but PLEASE women on here, KNOW he just left me an email that said he's meeting his new family in one week. He said to only contact him back if I did a money gram to him for $3500. Please read this fast because he is working tonight on some woman & going to meet her very soon. He told me to stop calling him but I don't have International Calling on my cell plan. He cannot speak English well at all. He does have an associate Mark Robinson from UK too, & that guy tracked me on my LinkedIn profile checking me out. LinkedIn emailed me, I clicked on it & it told me the method of search he did. They are working together and been (or say they have, on business) to Asian & European countries. Take heed. Don't b a fool who fell for this John Mike scammer. He's very intelligent or someone else is. If he could convince me to talk to him, he could convince ANYBODY, because I am very cautious.

I have had a couple people contact me, want to be friends, tell me they lost their wives in childbirth. One had his own business in Alanta Georgia but was on a job site and needed me to buy him a $100 itunes card because he couldn't get one where he was. The other one pretty much same story but he was in the US Army and was deployed out and could not buy iTunes cards there and wanted me again to buy $100 itunes card. Has anyone else experienced this

When these people ask for itune cards and you send the information off that card to them they turn it into what they call bitcons and sell them online such ad if its a 100 can sell it for only 40 to 50 dollars nigeria is the worst when it comes to lies and scams poverty is why they say they do it but these young men and women sink there claws into people dont send anything to anyone who asks a real humane being has class and decency and dont lie warning to all who read this

My username is just some of the titles I was given ... playing a game of Scrabble, I got drawn into a conversation which led to me being asked for iTunes vouchers for $300 and then to pay for a visa application fee - of course, I did nothing of the kind! US Naval officer - Sergeant Mark John... outrageous scam please be aware!

Does anyone know Peterson Ashley on tindar

Have anyone heard of a williams peter meyer....he try to scarmmed me too of a 5000 US ddolrs ...all in the name of I send a gift but they have seen money I had put in the pages so I had to pay 5000

Good evening everyone, sorry to hear about your stories. My lady has fallen for a fake romance scam. I have tried to explain, the person on the other end is not a real person, just a Facebook scammer. I even had the local police check the profile picture, the claim the it is fake. I present several websites regarding fake romance scams.She is in deep denial about this issue and will not listen. The person she talking to, his name is Jake Williams,claim to be in Syria on peace keeping mission, Widow with a young daughter. US Army General, A member of a law enforcement, ready to retire after deployment. She has been sending him money. I serve in the US Army, I have been deployed to middle east and Iraq. I am familiar with the deployments and services the Army provides. She claim to fallen in love within 2 weeks. Every time we talk about this scammer more and more clues come out, scam. Do anyone have any info about this person. I need help.

The US Army Criminal Investigation Command has issued several warnings about scammers who impersonate US military personnel. This CID article contains links to several related articles. You may want to show the articles and warnings to your friend.

GB1030, this sounds similiar to my story, only the name is different (Calvin Brian). Peace keeping mission, widow with a young daughter, US Army General, all the same. Luckily I saw the clues and stopped the conversation when he asked me for money. Hope your lady will wake up. Kindest regards

Good evening,thanks for your reply. I posted a discretion of Jake Jimmy Williams on pg 54 under GB1030 March 22, 2018. Please take a look at the article, let me know what your thoughts are.

yes. A Jake Williams in Syria. Its a scam. Mine would be a British Soldier (SAS - United Nations) no children, but I am sure its a scam. I am glad I didnt send any money...

Do you have a photo? I’m on something similar

I too have had someone by the name of Jason Hardaway wants me to get in a bank account so he can transfer funds from One bank to another anyone heard of him

Some scammers use people to transfer stolen money for them. The scammer might ask to use your bank account, or to open a new account. Then he asks you to receive and transfer money. If you do this, 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.

I think I'm talking to a scammer. But not sure, he tells me he loves me and we going meet soon. For weeks he has not ask for anything till now, he says he needs an iTunes card for he can send pictures. I haven't sent anything. And he still is texting me. He sent a video of him singing, and a picture. He says he is from Texas, his number showing from Texas. He claims to be in air Force. In Texas, he says he is 44 and goes by Richard Taylor. I'm wondering has anyone been scam by him. I Google his picture up but doesn't show any other images of the picture I have.

Ladies, I have lost all my savings, my car and my condo. Authorities (including FTC) are investigating about this huge and well organized network of scammers. Infos about that con artist: Civil engineer from California; perfect english and well articulated; doing a contract in Cyprus; wife died 3 years ago in a car accident caused by a drunk driver; wife died on the way to hospital, in his arms; 15yo son "bayley" living with his granny in Scotland; Grand-mother eucheria thompson needs a lung; had to pay taxes in Cyprus and was stuck in there; under the name of robert kinder; con mates under the names of scotty berlinger, david desroches, rohanda hopkins, james isaac and youlanda; real woman named Madame G.Rennie - dont send money to her, she is a victim too but does not believe it... yet; his company web site disappeared suddenly; fake lawyer web site in Cyprus: stanley cleverly also disapeared; all emails are gmails; phone numbers look like real from Cyprus and California; stolen pics of course; web cam broken (that's why he could not skype). I was his soul mate, the love of his life, ready to marry me and to start the second chapter of his life, sms, talking and emails few times a day, sent me flowers, shopping for a diamond ring for me, wow! I am now left with nothing except huge debts; he took all my savings, my car and my condo.

On the top, I am recovering from a breast cancer, and he knew it all those months.

So sorry, your losses. They ask about your vulnerabilities to hurt and use you. It took the death of my sister, to snap me back to reality. No, they don't care. Yes, they are a network. Thank God we can see these crooks now for the ugly, wicked little creatures they really are. NONE OF THEM ARE THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURES FOLKS. Not at all!!! Look up real pics of scammers, they are little twerps

I have to agree. Attractive pics, but probably little men, in reality. Is there such a site that shows real pictures being impersonated? I feel sorry for those also being used. The one that hooked me cannot possibly look that good. Scammers, yes have to be little twerps maybe less than five feet tall, hiding behind a cell phone.

You are one bad bad women, dealing with a scammer and breast cancer. Beat them both.

Beware a scammer named Mike, aged 60, says he's from Beverly Hills, he is using pictures of a model named Marc Hertle. He says he's a widower, sometimes his English seems fine, other times not. I am so grossed out, what a loser.He told me today he deleted his Facebook because someone was stalking him. LOSER!

Did he also say, his account was hack, lol BS.

to Bridget Small - FTC Hello, I cannot see my post (x 2). How come? Thanks

This is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted. We review comments Monday to Friday, 9 am - 5:30 pm, EDT.

Update since my last entry, I was able to locate victim of a romance scam. She agreed to talk with my lady. I hope this intervention works. Wish us luck.

My mom has been scammed by this guy named "Leon Hanz" He also has many different names. He "works" on an oil rig owned by ExxonMobile in Austraila. Funny thing is, that their isn't an oil rig owned by Exxon Mobile in Australia. He has a thick German accent. He has the same thick accent he uses whenever he talks to my mother, I know for a fact he has scammed more women, in fact he has scammed a women out of over $100k. He will ask money to to given to his nanny somewhere in Texas, mostly Itunes gift cards, $100 mostly. He said his wife died in a fatal car crash and she was from the U.K. and he is from Germany. He has a 17 year old daughter and a 14 year old son. He was going to meet my mother at the oxnard airport to but he said he let someone watch his bags for a minute on the plane and he was detained. Oh, and the lady that got scammed for over 100k is talking to my mother, Leon wanted my mother to talk the lady back into letting her not block leon anymore. So he could scam him. Idk if she could also be in on it as well. But they're talking atm.

Anyone know Michael Eric Tyler, a gas and oil engineer who is currently in Malaysia? A power surge wrecked his computers and he needs 4 more sent there so he can finish the contract job and come home to meet me

Hi Do you have his photo?where can we exchange details, i am currently chatting with a guy and he also claims to be at Malaysia and needs help blah blah blah.. thanks.

I do yes, do you have pics of your guy? What’s his name? What does your guy need help with? Can we post email address on here or how can we contact each other?

yes i do have how can we contact each other, never suspected before but then lately i have noticed something stranged on him and those pics he sents not sure if its his coz looks old and not real coz some of them i saw already online where he claims to be new or current ATM

I don’t know how we can, I have sent my email addresss twice and they haven’t posted it yet :(

 We don't post personal information on the blog; please see our Comment Policy for more detail.

Is there anyway to connect with other people and exchange information or no?

You're welcome to post comments about your experience. You can also help law enforcement by reporting to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. When you report details about your experience, the information goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies across the country use for investigations. You can choose how much information to give about yourself.

The FTC publishes an annual report about consumer complaints. In 2017, imposter scams, which includes romance imposters, were #3 on the list of reported problems. The top three were debt collection, identity theft and imposter scams.

I met this guy from FB, introduced himself as a civil engineer from Edinburgh Scotland, even gave me the name of the company where he works. He said he is a widower with a 10 yr. old daughter. He works as a private contractor. He travels all over the world. He said that he is looking for the right woman for him to spend the rest of his life. We start talking around thanksgiving last year and he start professing his love to me and I ended up telling him that I care for him too. We start texting back and forth or talking on the phone before we go to bed and getting up in the morning. We r having the relationship for the period of two months. He mentioned earlier that he is going to Malaysia to sign one of his business contracts. He left for ‘Malaysia in the middle of January, called me whe he arrived to Malaysia.

The first week he mentioned that he has to import machinery from China and that cost him $477,310 thousand dollars . He never mention anything during our two months of our relationship about any money. Listen to this, a week after he text me that he is in trouble that he is ashamed to ask me but he needs money for his hotel bills and food etc . When he told me about his problem, I was sleeping and I told him right away that a man like him with a big business and spending thousands of dollars don’t even have any money to pay for food and his hotel bills. At that time it raises red flags on me. I told him I am retired woman and I don’t have any money to send him.

A day after he apologized and said that his finance guy send him the money so I don’t have to worry about him. So our relationship still continues telling me how he loves me and talking about moving here in the US and I start believing the guy getting really in love with him. He send me some of his pictures and I send some of my pictures. This guy he even send me is passport picture because I told him I start not to trust him. So to make the story short I did some investigation and I checked his picture and passport and I was so distraught and shocked that both of the pictures are fake.

This guy use someones picture and identity. So I called him right away and I told him all the names u could imagine. Then he text me back to and calling me an idiot for believing what I found out. I told him he is a scammer and I will report him to the FBI . I’m glad I never sent him any money and I follow my gut feeling that there is something wrong with this kind of love. This guy uses the picture of a Prime Minister in UK and that is the picture I fell I’m love with.

Hi, a woman named Mary Greg contacted me wanting me to be her next of kin. I don't know her, but her bank manager wants $75 for fees to become her next of kin to receive her funds if she dies. Is this real?

This could be a scam. It sounds like a prize scam. That's when someone says you won a prize, (and they won't say how much it is) but they want you to pay a fee before you get the prize. If the person tells you to wire the money, that's a big sign of a scam.

Sounds like the earlier days of the Internet. Seems to be still going strong.

Anyone been scammed by the name of Mark Austin, American from Houston, Engineer. Very handsome, lovely smile, God fearing, loves family, widowed, Son 11, a younger Daughter, no other family. He is in linkedIn and Instagram. Met him in Tagged. I happen to believed he is for real he asked for money not once. 2nd time wake me up and everything else fell apart. How they can use other peoples photos and details for such things.

RETIRED LADIES ALERT!!! Beware with this guy he said he is from Edinburgh Scotland, he uses the name of Kevin Greg Williams he says he is in Malaysia with contract business, he is romance scam and he will ask u later to pay his bills. “ Don’t get fooled by these scammers”

I am sure I have been scammed too. He goes by the name Michael kwasi Oppong from Ghana. 2 children in boarding school and needs money for their fees.He is stuck in cuba with his company, property development. If I can pay for his fare back to America $900. I refused he got angry with me I haven't heard from him since. Smooth talking and a charming guy. I recently heard a group of ghanaians have been charged for romance scam in ohio columbus. I really fell for him.

Just watch out for these scammers!! They know how to work on widowers or any woman who r looking for relationship . As soon I found out that he is a scammer he got mad and call me stupid and I’m the one who is the scammer and my generation. I got the pictures and copy of his passport which is fake and I told him he was reported to the FBI . I got his number but he took it down. So everyone be careful for this heartless pigs.

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