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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

My last scammer, Henry Sharply asked me to take possession of new cars to start a new/used car business in my town. Said he was from here but works a lot in TX. He said WE were going to own the business and I would handle the money and the books. When that didn’t work he wanted me to accept a package with gold jewelry from the UK

I too am getting scammed. I kinda knew it from the beginning, but didn't want to believe it. We've been chatting for about a week and he gets into very deep stuff and has told me of his undying love for me and please wait for him until his stay in Afghanistan is over in about a year. Has asked me to marry him, WHAT, but I watch him and he says he has to go to work and he is still getting on Instagram and Hangouts when he says he's working. He is a doctor supposedly, as they all say to make you think they have money. He hasn't asked for money yet but I think I am reading between the lines and it is coming. Sadly, I'm crazy about him and I know that my heart will be broken. I have reverse searched his pictures and nothing fake pops up. I have had other guys and did the reverse picture and yes another man popped up. I'm going to bust him soon.

How does he look like? Curious if it's the same guy I am talking too.

Is his name Dr Martin Cruise?

this sounds like the guy that i am talking to. what does he look like? mine sent me a picture of him in his military police uniform in front of a helicopter, sound familiar?

Hello! I am from Romania and I have been approached by a few scammers on my instagram account.
Last year, an enginner from California, widower, with a daughter. Sent me videos of him and the little girl. After 2 weeks he wanted an expensive gift for his upcoming birthday. I suspected he was a fraud because he was like: I love you after 2 days, asked me about my income and berated me when I told him and I don't have savings, but he could't give me details about his income because apparently he worked on contracts of thousands of dollars. He said he was 47 but pictures and videos showed a man in the early 30's. One night he was messaging me insisting on the birthday present, event sent me pictures of products that were between 600 and 1000 pounds so I tried to do a better research on his pictures. I have tried initially and had no results so I did another thing: checked the backgrounds in his pictures. In one he was at a gym and I googled it. Apparently, the pictures belonged to the owner of the gym from UK. I looked him up on his real instagram account and informed him. I tried to confrom the scammer but of course he denied everything and stopped talking to me.
I am writting now because he or someone else reappeared on my instagram again. First, DouglaSmith, a doctor from I don't remember where, that workes in Turkey and does humanitarian word. Searched the pictures. The person in the pictures was a doctor from South America, not the one who contacted me. Confronted him so he blocked me. Now, I have Steve tanner that introduced himself as George. Apparently his nickname. Widower with 3 kids, Engineer from California, works in Kabul as a contracter for the US Army. He plays the piano and other 10 instruments, is a romantic at heart, fell inlove with me from my profile picture, wants me as his wife bla bla bla. The only pictures he has are as a worker for a transportation company and with 3 kids. I got bored of his loooong texts and told him that I had no job, no income, no savings and if he loves me I will come with only the clothes on my back. Haven't heard from him again.

In conclusion: be careful, don't get fooled by the beautiful, sobbing stories, the qualities they say they have and so on. Think logically: If someone needs help they will ask family, friends, people they have in their proximity, the authorities.
Also, no one falls in love in 2 days of watching someone's profile picture and exchaging a few words. They prey on our insecurities, on our need for romance and validation.
Take care.

A man claiming to be a marine named danny stalker scammed my mother out if 1000$ a year ago and shes still in a "relationship" sending money to him refusing to believe he's a scammer...I need help

I think I am. Currently talking to a scammer. He said he works for the Government as an engineer. He is on a mission in Turkey he said he lost his card that they gave him to pay for his ticket home. He will chat but sends the same pictures over and over . Will not call. Said he loves me and wants to be with me if he can just get the money to. One home. He has only 2 weeks left in Turkey. I won’t send him the money he keeps trying to get me to. Sending me how much he loves me even though we never met. He is using a different name. Says he is from NY both his parents died and he has a 12 year old son. No one to help him because he is in Turkey.

Someone added me in a dating site. His name is Frank Gabriel from Liverpool, England. He is in his early 30s's and an engeneering contractor of road and and building. He travelled a lot due to his contract working abroad, but i doubt to believe that he easily confessed his feelings for me. i have got a feeling that he is scammer because he ask me money for the clearance release of his parcel. Anyone know this man?

Hi, I have encountered a guy named Frank Vugar from Liverpool, England as well. He said he is an interior designer and works in the construction field too. He and his team won a big contract in Dubai for decorating a hotel with 250 rooms in it. He also asked me to pay for his clearance fee for his luggage that stuck at the airport. I am sure he is a scammer now. maybe we are talking about the same person.

I'm in Australia and think I'm being scammed by two men on a dating site...both lovebombing me, saying I'm the only one within a few emails, one a petroleum engineer who says he owns a drilling company based in the US, but has a contract in Australia on a rig in Bass Strait, the other says he's a "package engineer" and travels around purchasing land and helping architects design their buildings....

I started talking g s guy who is in Baghdad. Said wife died in a car accident. Has a 14 year old in boarding dcho n California. Says because he's I. The army, he can't use Facebook. Wanted me to use hangouts. Now he tells me in order for him to leave Baghdad he has t pay the camp 30,000. Said he will get money from this company and they will send me 100,000. Then he wants me to transfer money and send him, 39,000. Kelvin Louis is his sons name. In boarding school in California. Calls me darling wife all the time . Says he can't wait to see marry and be husband and wife. I think he us scamming me. Anyone know this guy? Joe Louis from Austin Texas

Good morning all..I was scammed by a Danielle Moody with a daughter named Rylee age 5...I was contacted through Facebook.. drop dead gorgeous woman...she claims to be the CEO of Moody and Sons trucking in Miami, Florida...after a few days of rather interesting conversation she said she had to go to Dubai for business...to buy trucks for distribution the US.. she flew by private jet and even sent me a video of her daughter looking out the window for her house... After landing in Dubai she sent me photos of the hotel and two days later asked me to do something for her ...she could not get access to her bank accounts because of the communication rules in Dubai!
She gave me the phone numbers and account numbers for two banks, Bank of America and Citizens Bank. She gave me tax ID numbers and the last four of her Social Security number...
I called the bank numbers and was connected to the banks I plugged in the required information and one account had an excess of 2 million dollars and the other an excess of 10 million!!
On Friday she said she need to pay for an app on her computer but needed a cash card from Amazon to do it...so like an old fool I March down to my local grocery store and bought a $100 gift card... All along she is talking about how I am the greatest thing since french toast...I was this I was that..very romantic...said she was divorced from a guy she caught in bed with her best friend!!
To make a long story shorter I started research yesterday Monday and finally figured out I was scammed...to tell you that this was the most sophisticated scam on the books would be an under statement... Before she/he dumped the Facebook account which she/he did yesterday, I was able to pick up on a couple of guys that had "liked" her photos and I contacted one and we traded information..sure enough same story...he had already sent $100 through PayPal and was getting ready to send her another $100....
Look out peeps..the scams are very very sophisticated!!!
Sad story but I learned a lot!!

He or she scammed me out of an apple card as well. Same scam described here. And then tried to get me for $2,000.00 in bitcoin. By then, I knew she was a scammer. I have 7 pictures and videos of the woman and child used in this scam but this site won't let me post them here. I downloaded the pictures before she could delete them. Where can I post them?

Meet this guy on dating site he asked me to get off the site and chat with him on hangouts. He is tall handsome blue eyed bald has several tattoos nice body. Claims 2 sons and a wife that cheated on him now he is divorced and she lives in Florida he lives in Alabama. Works overseas as an engineer his mother died never seen father in years. The frequency I live you baby. Typical scam go by the name charles blake williams.

I believe I am talking to James as well, from Sweden, this guy has sent me many pics, one in the shower even. Great eyes, sexy voice, white hair, handsome, with a daughter, and a living mother. He is visiting Cyprus, and needs 1800$. told him I didn't have it, he asked me to borrow from someone! and he stole my heart... creep!

I played at Scrabble Go game. James Hyperson (a romanian in New Jersey) contacted me and asked me to talk by Hangouts. He told me his ex had cheaten him and taken his little daughter from him. And said he dif not trust in anybody because his best friend lied with his ex... But I noticed some contradictions... at the beginnig said he was a model, producer and photographer... then he was a sctructural engineer. He started to call me “baby” and I was beautiful inside and outside. He asked me to be his girlfriend and be together forever one week later... Sent me love messages saying was crazy about me and cannot stop thinking of me... he cried because I did not tell him “I love you”... I was confused, but I believed 50% He said he had a contract in Perth, Australia. Today he asked me an iTunes card $200 usd because he could not get one there. I sent a link from apple and he called me to tell me he was not stupid, he needed card because his account was blocked and he had to pay to workers... he never said he was going to pay me. So... I understood he was a scam... Anyway he almost cheated on me...

I was too scammed by a guy from scrabble go. He called himself Andre Walsh and he is a helicopter pilot working on the Ayazli gas rig off shore turkey. Yes I sent a lot of money and a phone. He was suppose to come to South Africa now he just disappeared. It just shows.

I was approached on LinkedIn last week by Richard Terry Michael, who claimed to be from the US, with a teenage daughter living in California while he was working as an engineer on an oil rig off Belgium. Seemed nice, but wouldn't talk on phone or video call. Only texts and photos on WhatsApp. I pressed for a voice call and, as expected, he didn't sound American! I'm concerned for the guy whose image he stole, and his beautiful teenage daughter. I want them to have justice, but how??

Can you please send a picture of him? Cause i have funny feeling we r talking about the same guy

These details sound like a guy that approached me on Linked In uk cept he was an architect and used pics of a leading politician in Austria - he was living in CT USA but was of Swiss origin - a very thick accent and hard to make out. I wish we could share pics

In February, I went on a dating site for the first time. I met a man claiming to be Sqt Walter Handy and he listed his background and credentials. Like others have stated, we communicated multiple times daily using Google Hangouts because his is located in Iran and was supposed to be retiring on March 28th. That was delayed because of Covid-19.

In March, he explained that he had two consignment boxes that needed to be shipped home and because of his delayed retirement and the fact that McBens Agency shipping facility in Cuba was closing down, he needed to get them to me quickly.

As background, he received these boxes as a reward from a rich businessman for saving his daughter who had been kidnapped.

At the recommendation of his General, he hired a Diplomatic Courier who works for the Royal British Agency in London named Agent Scott Adkins.

The first attempt to get the boxes to the US that included a Delta ticket, resulted in Agent Scott getting stopped by Customs in NY because he did not have the proper documentation Customs was going to seize the two boxes as they were label money laundering and "because of his connections with the UN and the RBA," he was able to take them back with him to London.

Now storage fees were due and then once the Tax Clearance Certificate was issued by HM Revenue and Customer and signed by the Ghana Revenue Authority, they also issued a HIgh Court of Justice Certificate of Origin, by the Department of Mines, U.K. and now it came time for shipment.

Because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, Agent Scott could not travel using the airlines but negotiated a private plane.

The sum total of this experiential "Online Dating Class" $50,000.

I've learned to go to Tineye to do a reverse search on photos. The photos that I received belong to Ren Hardy whose identity was stolen almost 10 years ago.

Has anyone talked to someone possibly in the air force deployed to Japan and their name is Sarah D. Johnson. I am just making sure I am not caught up in a scam. They said they can't video chat or phone call due to there poor network, but we do text by phone.

Honestly - they all use the same trick.
Just the story is slightly different each time.
They are always in the US army, usually in Syria, and always going to enjoy their holidays. Soon.

And that's where it starts.
And the SCAM is then based on the information you have been stupid enough to provide.

It will never stop .....

I met a man on a dating website. After a few weeks of texting he said he had business in Croatia selling crude oil. He then messame from Croatia saying the company pahi. In all cash and he couldn't take it on the plane would I be willing to accept the package until he got back. ( we had planned on meeting to see if we were a good match.) I said sure. After I gave him my address he started acting really strange, tell me not to tell anyone and don't open the package at this point I wish I had never given him my address. He mailed the package then he told me I needed to email the courier, Fast Delivery, to find out exactly when the package would arrive so I was home to accept it. The courier said I needed to pay $2575.00 in order for the package to be delivered. I would not pay it so they sent the package to a warehouse where the Anti money laundering commission seized the package. The guy I was talking to says he went to talk to them and is now arrested. He said they are going to sue me and charge me with money laundering. I have no idea how this became my fault when I haven't done anything and didn't know what was going on. My crime is being stupid. Is this a scam? Someone please help me.

I have been chatting with a handsome black man, green eyes named Henry King. He says he’s in Military and was raised in Milan Italy but, from Spanaway WA. Any other women know of him? My gut says he’s a scammer

A man named Eddie Gors says he is from Houston and is an Engineer on an oil refinery in Kuwait with Halliburton and he lost his entire family to an accident he has noone. He Found me on Facebook and messaged me for about 3 weeks just talking to me. Was interested in Real Estate for investing in his retirement when he returns to the states. He wanted to send me a package never once asked me for money nothing just wanted to send me and package. So I said yes. He said a Crow Logistics Courier Service would contact me with details. I got an email from the courier service asking me for my name and address and phone number. Sent me a tracking number and website. Continued to still talk to me I received and email 2 days later from courier service with an attachment from Turkey Customs requesting $1100 for a Certificate of Orgin. The courier service told me that the package is registered to me I am responsible so I sent the money to the courier service. 2 days later I got another email from the courier with another attachment from the Turkey Customs requesting another type of certificate $2000 I sent it. All of this is to the courier never to him directly. The tracking system shows where the package is and everything. 4 days later I get an email and its from the courier service with an attachment from US Customs Border Patrol the package is in Washington Dulles Airport in Customs and it needs another Certificate for $3200. I sent the money to the courier again for the certificate. Now its been going on since July 8th. I received another email from the courier 2 days after the last money was sent and now US Customs wants $6200. I said absolutely no more money.... This man has lost it with me and is now threatening me and my family. Says I have taken his package and his personal documents inside the box he has sent me. Well according to the email from US Customs they scanned to package and its got over $100,000 in cash and 2 gold bars and papers on this box. He never told me what was in the package until after it was on the way. He has offered me 50% of wants in the package plus my expenses to pay for this package. I told I would cut my losses and have a nice life. He is now texting me threatening me and my family.

Hi, you have been scammed. Same story happened to me. Different name (Burgan Missick a US army major from Dallas, Texas presently in Kabul, Afghanistan. Parents died, no relatives, wife died 3 yrs ago. Texted me in Interpals) but same scenario: 3 weeks of love messages then asked to get the box. The box stuck in Turkey, asked $1,850 for customer clearance. Then the box reached another place, now the agent asks for $8,000 for the immunity tag to be issued somewhere in Malaysia. Money gone, I'm in a tough situation of making both ends meet and to return the sum I borrowed. Don't trust them! Chat if u want a dose of love messages copied and pasted from interest resources, but better block and never give money if asked.

Sounds very similar. I refused to have anything to do with the package, which was suppose to be treasure her recovered while drilling in the Norwegian Sea. Been communicating for several months, he has asked for Itune cards to pay for his phone so we could continue to text. Very charming with a supposedly French accent. Be very careful

Has anyone talked to men off dating site that talks about One woman man a lot! Wants to be sure you are one man woman As well as will treat you like a queen. The 2 have been from Germany. But didn’t talk to on phone so not sure about accent.

If you continually get messages stating we have a parcel wsiting for you since....whatever date they use... DO NOT CALL the phone number..DELETE
I have gotten 4 such messages each with a different area code. 213, 332, 917, and 407.
DELETE THESE MESSAGES!

Hi all. Please be careful of a scammer who will say he is working in Yemen. His Wife was having an affair and left to go to America with his Daughter and his Dad has cancer. He is on twitter under the alias of Steve Mullet. Also uses the alias Paulo James. He is a scammer!

Is anyone in touch with a guy called Ralph Marshall. I think he’s a scammer but a good one

Hi Startfish@ I think that I am being scammed by a man who say his name is James Mcgrew US military Army. He says that he is deployed in Africa his Birthday was August 22 that he is turning 40. He asked me what was I going to get him for his birthday it started out that he needed $150.00 to get his cell phone fixed then it went up $200,00 from there to $300.00 thats were I stopped it. Not only that he wanted me to give him my banking information. I deleted the app that he had me to download and blocked his phone number. So if you see a James Mcgrew do not accept his friend request.

Hi, I made contact with someone names Brandon Mcgrew. He requested me on FB and soon afterwards we were chatting back and forth on Google hangouts. He never got a chance to get anything from me because I did a Google search of a photo he sent me and it came up on a scammer site. So did a few other pics he sent me. He uses the name Brandon Mcgrew and also Brandon Colton. His Facebook says Brandon Colton but I think the account is a fake one.

Hi there....I wanted to reach out because I recently have been talking to someone with the same name. He reached out to me on FB as well. Can you tell me if he provided any details about himself to you. Did he say he was military and had a child ?

He goes by the name David on Hinge. Says he works fur government for antiterrorism group. Says he lives in Manhattan but says he’s somewhere in Europe. Gave me a Cali text now number area code (562). As soon as I said it’s a text now Cali number he deleted my connection off Hinge....lol go away. If anyone is working for our government they can’t tell anyone and said he was allowed clearance and got special permission to go on the dating website. Lmao

I met someone online who says he is a soldier. He is also really sweet. He didn't ask for any money from me. In fact, he said he will send me some money. He asks for my information so that he can send me some money. Do you think it's a scam?

Don't do it!! Lots of scammers send you money to eventually send back to them. They are using you to launder money and you can get caught up as well. If you don't meet.... delete!

Has anyone knew landers helen?
She told me to send her $1,225 sbd to pay for my financial assistance expense..
After I send her the money, she then adviced me to pay the activation fee for my funding with the total amount of $4,500. Andso I started realiazing that something is with this situation..
Please I need to know if she is a scammer as well.

I am chatting with someone right now. He chatted with me via Instagram and said he wanted to be my friend. Later on, if we can chat via Hangout because it's he can only use Hangouts in their camp. He also said that it is really strict in their camp that even chatting with me is prohibited and has some consequences. He also keeps telling me how he loves me and that I'm the most beautiful woman in the world. And that he has a lot of plans for us and so on...
Now, he said he will send me some money and some package. Do you think this man is a scammer? Should I believe him or not?

I got the same sob story as well. Really strict, blah blah blah. Calling me his wife, he loves me so much, etc. NEVER accept any money or send money. It is all a scam.

Ask to take a picture with something written. Something you and only you know and want, nothing else. Be specific. That is how i found out i was getting scammed. He would not take pictures even. If the person says he is right now on a fort tell him you have friends on the military too and ask where he is right now to send him something with your friend.

Hello, I need some pieces of advice...
I chatted with someone from Instagram and later on, he said we should chat via Hangouts.

I'm not sure whether his a scammer or not...
There are some things that fit in like:
1. He immediately confessed his love and told me he loves me
2. I notice most of the scammers say they are from the military and has some tasks in other countries like Syria
3. We rarely had video call because he said it's not allowed in their camp

However,
1. He never asks for money and I have no intention to give
2. I tried to search his pictures but nothing appears. Does that mean it's his real picture?

I'm just afraid he might use my identification for fraud. Pls help..Thank you

They are getting smarter and smarter on finding pictures to make sure they are no on internet searches. On the military website states that they have a military email and if anything, ask for the APO address. If they cannot provide this to you, you are being scammed and catfished!

I have asked for APO but he said because of pandemic they are not receiving mail. This was a couple months ago.

I chatted with one he waited more than 2 months before asking for money. That was first time it happened to me .

Run! He's a scammer. Mine never did until he convince me to invest on bitcoins.
They profess love fast and sound like a dream come true, too good to be true!

Stay away. Same thing happened to me. If they can't take a selfie with "today's date" then they aren't real no matter what they send you. I've received what appear to be ligitimate govt ID's that are forged with someone elses photo whose ID has been stolen. If the other person doesn't do what you would do, it's because they are hiding behind something. Run before your heart gets twisted.

I got scammed by this guy named John Douglas. He claims to be the CEO of his own business Douglas Medicals in Santa Barbara. He lives in Santa Barbara (don't know if this true), and he has a thick accent of an Irish born so this is probably true that he's originally from Ireland. Watch out ladies with his cute accent and good looks on his fake photos!

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