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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.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I met a guy saying he is in the military and immediately he starts saying how he loves me he missed me and bomb can I send him a gift card for Google Play because he's so bored then he just start asking for money in bank account is saying that he needs to come home and set up this fake email saying that I had to pay $180 as a retainer fee to prove that I really want him home but the money be refunded and I actually called him out on it and he still can provide any legit hardcore information saying that he was official military officer so I just deleted him and blocked him thank God my red flag since it was on and I came out of no money the only way I can describe him is the picture said he posed he has he has a beard like a goatee and very muscular thighs and a low haircut and he said he's from Australia but when I talked to him on the phone, he sound like he was from the UK but he was a US military so many red flags so ladies be careful his name is James Jack and he is in Afghanistan and apparently his fiance died 6 years ago and has no family but a brother in Australia

Hey anyone come across guy, Bill Stenseth , Heavy Swedish ascent, too good to be true claiming to be a project manager overseas?

Yes on the Swedish too good to be true. Has sent me pics but doesn’t want to Skype or FaceTime. Claims he’s in import/export business. Checked his phone number and it says from New Jersey and that it’s a VOIP

My husband is a victim of this. Her name is Angela Moore. He has sent over 2000 for the gold and another 100 in gift cards. How do I wake him up from this scam?!?!

Has anybody else had chats with a Johnson Anderson sometimes goes by other names Daniel Anderson frank anderson I could carry on
I’ve tried doing reverse image search but can’t seem to do it
He has asked me for £850 to get him home but I don’t think he is from England I have deep suspicion he is from Miami
Please I need your help people to try and find out who it really is I’ve been chatting too
I have not sent any money
If he is a scammer then the fella who’s profile and info he has stolen needs to be informed

I was contacted in IG from a very good looking man. At first it was normal conversation and he invited me over to Hangouts to chat. He claims he is a dr from New York but currently in Norway working. Asked for iTunes gift card so he could update his apps so he can video chat. I had suspicions so bought just a $20 card.
Told me he is a widow with a daughter. I google image searched his photos but it didn’t come up with anything. So I was kind of relieved.
He claims daily he loves me wants to marry me blah blah blah. Then the next thing he’s asking me to pay for his ticket over here. I told him why can’t he pay for his tickets as he is a dr. He replied that his money is all tied up until he gets back to New York. He then asked me to ask my friends for the money I said well you can ask your family and friends too. He got rather annoyed and his demeanor changed. I told him he’s a scammer and a hypocrite.

Does anyone talk to Clarke Hughes?

Hi this woman contacted me her name is Natashia Sun from the Ukraine within a few hours she said she had a business and was a massager she also told me she had money but was upset as she had no family and friends I asked her why ?
She didn’t answer many questions she was just interested in me if I went off line she said where are you ?yoi must hate me you not my friend I will kill my self !!
I will come to London England I told her No I be only known you 12 hours if she texted me and u did t a answer her she said you must hate me
I said no I have a life and at this moment I’m busy next thing I know she’s asking me to accept her Facebook request I said no then she said I want photos of you and I sent her one But she said I like your pictures I said I sent you one and your showing other pictures of me I didn’t give you permission she never got back because I blocked her from containing me again!!!

Now these scammers are using gaming site like words with friends. I had a guy try and get me to send money to his nanny because his daughter got in a car crash. I knew he was lying. So I asked for her name and I would send the funds to the hospital and he didn't like that answer. I wasn't planning on sending money.

That’s good to know about word with friends. I have one I’m thinking is one. He is claiming to love me and works on an oil rig but can’t video chat because his camera ‘is not working because it fell in water!” Asked me for data -amazon card! Of course that was a no!!

What was the name he used..did he tell u he was older ? And his wife died 6 years ago ? And after a few days he wanted to text and then used 1 or 2 apps hangout or what's app ?? And told he was in love with u if he called his voice was weird ...then would want to chat all night ? Then ask for an internet card bc his bank was compromised and he had to shut it down .then told to leave u alone he was upset ..

Has anyone been contacted by a guy stating he is dr. Bryan d Jackson working for the UN in Yemen?

Says he is Richard Wilson.
He could be looking for someone to transfer drug money or something for him.

Watch out for so many scammers on Instagram . I have one name Shawn Van on Instagram , he got me off Instagram and on hangout . I hate when he says I love you just in 2 days, what the hell. Now he ask for a book convenant, hell no. I talk to him on the hangout, something just don't add up. I need to block him. I had scammers before, they are getting smarter. Someone needs to start tracking them down and stop doing this to women, I am smart not sending them money and flat out and said no. Something needs to be done with these idiots .

I have been talking to someone for about 3 weeks and he will not talk to me on the phone. When he texts me he has alot of what I call broken English. He says alot of words that I have never heard before. The phone number that he uses has another name for it. And I can't find any information about him. Because I have paid for companies to check. All those companies want more money. So if anyone can help me find out who this person really is.

What name is he using and phone number

I met a man claiming to be in the US army. His name is John brown!? He’s been asking me for money, cards. And now his personal internet!?? He says he doesn’t have access to his account.. since he is deployed in Africa!?? Is this a real US soldier..? Or what??!

I'm also a victim of a scam. Good thing us no money yet because i already detect before i send my bank account to him. He claim that he is a LT. Colonel Ronald Scot Evans. 41 yrs old. I meet him in one of the dating site. Claiming this he is a soldier. Parents and wife are deceased and has a son taking care of a care giver in Dublin.

I have pictures of him and i was able to talk to him over the phone but no video call. His voice is too far from all the pictures that he send. He makes me feel loved and special. I fell in love with him immediately and it's crazy. Very good looking guy in the pictures. How i wish he is real.

Does anyone know a guy Alek Scheffler a guy i am talking to now on hangouts for 7 months he , said his parents died in a car crash in Bronx NYC, he is an only child, he tried to get me to pay for a real state agent $3K
He is in the military ( mariners) in Damascus Syria and he wants me to send money to someone else in the USA ( third party) and needs me to buy him a ITunes card.
He has a 7 years old son name Levi, his wife was a drug user .. He has sent me several videos in the gym, videos with the son and several photos .. we have never talked on the phone because he tells me he does not have permission to do so ... let me know if I send you the photos and videos. he wants me to use western union, make a deposit in an atm using biocoin oh sending a friend to collect the money ... I need your help please

Its a scam girlfriend, I also am texting a guy in Damascus Syria claims he is a solider ( Fredrick Greene) and can't send pictures or talk on the phone. These guys do not need money. The real solders have anything they need. So he is just using you and I know it hurts but don't fall for the BS cause that is what it is. They don't talk on the phone cause they have accents that they don't want you to hear. Then he wouldn't sound like an American. These guys have a racket and they don't care who they hurt. Drop him like a hot potato and don't send money. You will never see him or get it back and they always like to say this to get your heart out there and it happens so much. If they are not in your state, don't waste time cause there not real. Even the ones who say they are in the same state are always in another country asking for you to do something.

Does anyone know a guy Alek Scheffler a guy i am talking to now on hangouts for 7 months he , said his parents died in a car crash in Bronx NYC, he is an only child, he tried to get me to pay for a real state agent $3K
He is in the military ( mariners) in Damascus Syria and he wants me to send money to someone else in the USA ( third party) and needs me to buy him a ITunes card.
He has a 7 years old son name Levi, his wife was a drug user .. He has sent me several videos in the gym, videos with the son and several photos .. we have never talked on the phone because he tells me he does not have permission to do so ... let me know if I send you the photos and videos. he wants me to use western union, make a deposit in an atm using biocoin oh sending a friend to collect the money ... I need your help please

I met a Chris on an online dating site last month who has a son who turned 12 recently lives in Florida travels a lot leaves his son with a nanny says he’s in the import/export business professes his love and devotion blah blah blah wants to get married... convinced me to buy a cellphone and send it Nigeria. I cried to him for pressuring me to do so because it was literally breaking me financially but he assured me he would reimburse me within a few days. I’m a nice looking woman he’s a nice looking man I’m really thrown off by this I really don’t want this to be a scam situation because I have feelings for this man. Someone please help! I have pictures of this man if anyone would like to exchange to see if we have the same person.

Don't do it. Its a scam and him making you cry means he cares nothing for you or your situation. No real man will ask a real women for anything until they have met and even not then. I had feelings too and now I'm out $122,000.00 my whole retirement because I was blind and didn't listen to my friends and family. I really believed him and now I know. If he gets mad then he's scamming. They don't like to be told no especially when they have invested time into you.

I did the same thing his name was Kelly Jack pretending to be a AMERICAN soldier on deployment in Afghanistan I am now in financial debt because of him paying back three credit cards because of him and losing my retirement fund I lost 125,000 how stupid I am to have fallen for this scam

This guy sound like the same man that I'm talking too. please send a picture so i can see is he the same man.

Has anyone been scammed by a person named Kelly JACK

Watch out for nionni 999 on Instagram got in touch with me Nov 18 was everything a woman would dream of .we moved to hangouts he claims to be American working in qatar temporarily and deals in car sales and gold. Sent me love poems and all sort of romantic gestures made out he was so in love with me and we would be together for ever. Suddenly his gold was seized and if he didn't pay a currupt government official he was going to jail so I blocked him scammer

I have been romanced by a man on a dating site professing to be SPC Jeffrey Shane Witcher. Wanted me to pay for missing weapons in Ghana

I have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a scammer. He had a similar story to what has been shared by others. He claimed to be engineer working on an oil Rigg in Texas. He told me a very sad life story. Divorced, was raising his granddaughter because his daughter had passed away, but the Nanny had that responsibility now. No parents and no other family. He was looking for a woman to spend his life with. Someone he would love and spoil, treat like a Queen. He eagerly showed me a photo of his car, house and even showed me a photo of his work contract worth nearly $7 million dollars, you know, biggest one he ever landed. It looked pretty authentic, his name on it, company logo and signatures on the bottom. He claimed that this was his last job and then he was coming to sweep me off my feet and share with me an unbelievable life. In a day he professed undying love and in 3 came a marriage proposal. Over a week, questions were asked about how big my house was, what kind of car I had etc, did I have money? Then a few days later, came an urgent message that money was needed to repair work equipment. It was an emergency. There was no one that could help, but me.He was on the Rigg and had no access to any of his own funds. When I questioned him and said I couldn’t send any money he became very angry. He even showed me a photo of his bank statement showing he had several million dollars. Again, it looked pretty authentic. Yeah I know, not buying it! He got over his anger quickly and told me after a couple of days that he had figured out the payment he needed. A few more days passed, he went back to being this kind, loving man that would do anything for me. Approximately a week later, another emergency. Money was again demanded. Yes ladies, be careful of men on sites like Instagram that innocently trip over your photo and can’t resist you. I was suspicious from the beginning, many things about his story didn’t seem to add up, but wondered really what the scam would be. Isn’t it always about money??? Be real, no one falls in love in a day with someone they have never even laid eyes on! Be wary, ask lots of questions. If things don’t make sense, guess why? SCAM!

Mine was a engineer name Eric J Norbert
Supposedly on a oil rig in the Black Sea
Thank God my son recognized the photo shop photos before things went to far
Confronted him to FaceTime to clear up any misconceptions but he said no

Yikes! The same thing happened to me last week (no $$ was involved!)! I feel much better knowing it was a scam.

Mine said he was cardiologist in the army and deployed to Damascus. Said his name was George Davidson. Said his wife died of breast cancer. He found me on OKCupid and said he was trying to meet someone to come home to (in Oakland) when he retires in July.

Sounds like the same guy I met on Tinder last year. Tall, dark hair, very handsome, 30's. It's a scam.

Hey all, I could use some help. I think my aunt is being scammed. She met someone on Facebook, who's Facebook immediately deactivated. (His reason: He isn't supposed to have one at his job.) He says he is a marine engineer (Works on boats) for "Phoenix Petroleum Drainage Refinery Company" in the Baltic Sea. He says he is in Norway. Says his phone doesn't have calling capabilities and his work contract will not allow him to do social media calls. So they only use Google Hangouts to communicate. He has never asked her for money, but has mentioned money issues, but never tried to get her to do it. So she trusts him. They've been communicating for about 3 months, and he says he wants to marry her. Says he's from a place that is 6 hours from where she lives, and when he gets home, he wants her to move there. He has two girls (deceased wife) in boarding school in Texas. He supposedly worked out his contract, and was trying to get paid. That's where the trouble started. Apparently his work wants him to open a bank account. He says his option was Wells Fargo, but they don't have a branch in Norway, so he will open up an account online, and send his debit card to my aunt. He wants her to take out the money, wire it to him, and he will buy his plane ticket home. Recently, he's been having many health issues, such as malaria and typhoid, high blood pressure, and stress issues, and he blames the fact that he is stressed about wanting to see her, and about his pay. I can't convince her that it's a scam and it could make her liable for that money. She thinks that because it's supposedly his card and his money, and he's giving her permission to do it, that she isn't doing anything wrong. I see a lot of scams where they want the victim to open an account, but he says he is opening one and sending HER the debit card. It's different from what I've seen. She knows her family thinks he is a scammer, so she is tight-lipped about his email address, but I'm really concerned he's scamming her. So my two questions are:

1. Has anyone seen a scam similar to this?
2. How can I show her that if she does this, she becomes a part of the fraud? I'll take any resources I can get.

Please help me.

Some scammers use people to help them transfer stolen money. They don't reveal that the money is stolen - they tell a story to hide the purpose for the transaction.

They meet people online, create a relationship, and often ask their new sweetheart to use her own account or open a new account. (You said the person told your aunt he would open the account.)

But the next part of the story is the same: the scammer asks the victim to receive and transfer money - which may be stolen money.

If you open an account for a scammer, your name is on the bank account. If you transfer stolen money for someone, your name and personal information is 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. The FBI calls this a money mule scam.

Hi Bridget! Thanks for getting back to me. So is him opening the account a new thing among scammers? My aunt is trying every way to prove that he isn't a scammer, and she says that because him sending her his debit card isn't like the other scams, he can't be a scammer.

I don't know all the different ways scammers operate. Scammers may change the way they operate when people catch on to their stories. 

It's important to look at the big picture: If someone you don't really know asks you to wire money, it's probably a scam. You can lose money or personal information and get in legal trouble.

There are warning signs of a scam in your aunt's story. She met someone on an online dating site. Soon after she met him, he asked her to move the conversation off the dating site. They never met in person, but in just 3 months, he formed a relationship with her and said he wants to marry her. He claims to be a professional working for an international company, but asks someone he just met to wire money for him.

He is pressuring your aunt to help him. He tells stories about health emergencies to pressure her to cooperate with him. If she gets involved with this and transfers money, her name and information will be on the wire transfer forms. She could be helping a criminal. She could lose money and personal information and get in legal trouble.

Ihave a chatmate also same your aunty wirk in phoneix petruleum drainage refinery as a marine engineer his name philip jackson. He did not asking me money he told me he have a money from deplomant he want that im the one recieve it because when im go home in philippines meet me to marry me

Has anyone ran across a Tony (Anthony) James, Robert Benderk, or Johnny Smith? This mad is very handsome and knows just want to say. DO NOT SEND HIM ANY MONEY!!!! Don't waste your time with him for he is the scum of the earth. He says he lives in Austin Texas has two sons 7 and 15. His story was he was stuck in Istanbul for every reason in the book.

Istanbul? Tattoos and muscular?

ive been talking to a man claims hes a sargent first class in the us army by the name of doug t howard. his story is inconsistent, his spelling, speech change regularly like its several people sending the emails. recently asked me for money, which I couldn't provide. now im getting freaky emails apparently from the us military intelligence through a gmail account trying to extort me. an ip search reveals its the same ip from the guy. reverse image searches come up with nothing, email search comes up with nothing, ip search comes up with nothing. the phone number he gave me is disconnected. the address he gave me, is listed on a real estate site as 4 units. ive reported him to the us army criminal investigation command, and the Australian federal police with a copy of the extortion email. its definitely scammers, be aware, I think this guy is using a stolen us soldiers ID, I just cant prove it. they aren't aware that I have reported them yet.

Funny how the dude in Syria is on a peace mission , wanted me to email the UN , ok fine gave me a UN address with gmail ahhh Not , told him I emailed them entered in his name an no name of American Solider came up. Then he needed money to give to a friend , not from me American Solider get paid there salary don't ever get held. Here's the best his phone was broken so wanted a new I phone even sent the photo of the one he wanted .He was a widow wife died son 14 in boarding school . Lived in Washington DC . Was a doctor .
Ps go online found his photo on scammer websites, he has more photos then this year's top model .
Best ever his name is George Michael omg really

End of April I was contacted by a guy claiming to be US army in afganistan thru online. Then he gave me his phone number so we could chat over WhatsApp. I noticed he already deactivated his profile online but didn't think much of it. He told me about his 11yo daughter and how much he want to start new family. He's retiring soon. He asked me to contact his daughter via email so I did. Her daughter was very sweet. Then early May he confess his love for me and proposed. I was shocked but just listen to it. Even her daughter was very supportive of us getting together and live in US. He said he's coming with his daughter to see me, even send me the flight itinerary. I find it too good to be true as we only talked in WhatsApp for 1 month. He never asked money so I didn't suspect anything. Until recently, he said he got some hold and cash in afghanistan but can't keep it as he'll be going to Iraq soon so he need me to keep it save until he come. That's when I start realized something not right so I said no. He said what's the harm of receiving a parcel and keeping it save. He said he only trust me and its my sacrifice for our love and future. We start arguing, he said I'm selfish. How can I be so cruel to him when he loves me so much and risk his life everyday. I block and report to WhatsApp. Not sure if he's real but I follow my heart eventho it was hard as I thought I finally found my soul mate. Why a US army in afghanistan would have gold and cash to send me..doesn't he have any friends in US that can recieve his parcel..

Has anyone been contacted by Reinhard James hes says he's in Afghanistan and is a widower and has a son. Has gone from you are a wonderful person to I want you in 3 weeks.....In his 50's very handsome. Shows pic in uniform with name one it and a pic in a vineyard.....help

hi,, just wanna share. now im chatting with a "team colonel Donald Zhang" who was deployed in afghanistan . he tell something regarding about he do in camp. he tell a stories about himself. his mom, dad, and little sister was died from the car crash. have son in boarding school,cared by nanny.his wife past away 18 months ago. he said send me a bunch of money found from the taliban hide out. so on. now i got a message from my fake account that i gave him ask for an insurance fee need to pay before the delivery process. i get suspicious about this coz the account they send was not actually under by the insurance company they said, it was under the name of a person from turkey. so i do a background checking. ask help from a friend in turkey and said that is personal account. so he think he fooled me but actually i fooled him back,

I was contacted by Keanu Reeves who followed me on twitter and then Skype .. he won my trust and after a month of passionate notes and songs he won my heart. I was totally caught up in it and then after another month of love he asked for money for his charity. My donation wasn’t enough and he shamed me..I knew then but was so devistated and in love that it broke my heart. Keanu was probably a smart Nigerian who got me totally.

My sister is being scammed and she doesn't see the fake stories from mr Zornes. I hope she wakes up!

I also was messaged by a Daniel Zornes. Claimed to be in Florida, wife died of cancer and he was raising his son Maverick on base. Suddenly, he is being deployed one day after we start talking to West Africa. Wanted to switch to WhatsApp quickly. Claimed he is now in West Africa, and didn't like the food on base. Said it was too different, and wanted money to get an agent to get food he liked on base. Claimed we are Fated, that he loves me and wants to marry me. Had very broken English in his messages. Too many red flags - I didn't send him money. I deleted and blocked him. Tell her to beware!

has anyone talked to a jonathon davies claims to own an oil business and works as an marine engineer from charlotte nc but lives in neiu amsterdam anyways he had a facebook page sent request to my sister of course she accepted it a few pictures probably not him wife was killed in car accident has no family except a son never post any pictures of him or sent any at first he told my sister he wanted her to be his wife after a couple of times of chatting on hangouts thru email the point is he asked for itune cards then next it was money she was told he probably was a scammer she beleived everything he said until he said he broke a part at work and needed her to send 500 dollars to help pay for it lol why does he need money if hes owns an oil business she quit talking to him now he trys to send her request none stop lol he goes by jonathon davies widowed works at marine engineering be aware

I have been chatting to someone since end of January, at first he did not ask for money, but then he started, so I sent him a little. He says he is genuine. How do I know this

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