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Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money

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Image of cupid and heartNot everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly. And they tug at your heartstrings with made-up stories about how they need money — for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. Why all of the tricks? They’re looking to steal your money.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, romance scammers are now involving their victims in online bank fraud. Here’s how it works: The scammers set up dating profiles to meet potential victims. After they form a “relationship,” they come up with reasons to ask their love interest to set up a new bank account. The scammers transfer stolen money into the new account, and then tell their victims to wire the money out of the country. Victims think they’re just helping out their soulmate, never realizing they’re aiding and abetting a crime.  

Here are some warning signs that an online love interest might be a fake. They ask you to:

  • chat off of the dating site immediately, using personal email, text, or phone
  • wire money using Western Union or Money Gram
  • set up a new bank account

Did you know you can do an image search of your love interest’s photo in your favorite search engine? If you do an image search and the person’s photo appears under several different names, you’re probably dealing with a scammer. And if the person’s online profile disappears a few days after they meet you, that’s another tip-off.

Here’s the real deal: Don’t send money to someone you met online — for any reason. If your online sweetheart asks for money, you can expect it’s a scam.

Unfortunately, online dating scams are all too common. There may be tens of thousands of victims, and only a small fraction report it to the FTC. If this happens to you, please report it at ftc.gov/complaint — click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams.

A woman looking at a dating site on her computer.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit
Scam Tags:  Romance Scams

Comments

I've been talking to a stunning looking young woman I met online. She said she was a student working on a project with WHO and got stranded in Nigeria. She needed money to get out and continued to say things like the money she had was stolen or the money was scammed from her. Her name is Elizabeth (Betty) Pugh.

OMG! This happened to me too! Thank you for posting this.

I met him on lavalife.com He claimed to be an engineer and had to go to Texas to work on securing a contract. He gets the contract but it is to work on a rig in Alaska so now it would be 6 more weeks before we could meet. Said he was widowed his wife and son died in a car accident. Said he just moved to Canada two months ago but has a 213 area code? He has a problem at the rig in Alaska, one of his vital team members trying to get cell service fell and had to go to hospital. He is in serious condition. Now Charles Jason does not know what to do...He asks me to send an email to another engineer to come and help him at the site. I had to do the email as he said there was no internet...he could only text. I email this engineer Stevens Green and he replies very quickly stating he just finished a job in Dubai but wont go to the site until payment is secured. Charles texted me to ask if I could send Stevens 20 thousand US dollars so he could come to help on the rig. That is the last conversation I had with him. I said NO. since then I have blocked him from my email and cell phone. I reported this to the police and every on line site I can He is so very convincing and smooth like all the others I am sure. Claimed he loved me, wanted to marry me etc etc I have also reported to yahoo his and his buddy's email address. He also goes by the name James Candam He only went by Charles Jason with me. His accent does not suit his picture. Ladies be aware!!! He is so damn good at making you fall for him says everything you want to hear and more. I am trying to find out who the person is in the picture he uses on facebook, lavalife and the ones he sent to my email. Does anyone know how I can contact the poor guy who's picture is being used?

Sounds like someone who was trying to scam me. We emailed, did google.hangouts,etc After 1 month, he was professing his love for me, etc. He was an oil geologist, whose wife had died 6 years earlier from ovarian cancer. Said he was deeply religious (Catholic) and had a daughter going to college in Leeds, England. He, too, took a 6 week contractor job in the Baltic Sea. His drill broke and he told me he had already purchased one in PA, but could I pay for the shipping fee of $1500. He had locked his accounts while he was out of the country and the bank wouldn't let him unlock his account unless he was physically there. Started smelling a scam. I told him I couldn't afford the $1500, then he said his daughter could come up with $500, could I do the $1000. He wanted me to give the money on a gmail account with no other information on it. I called the company who supposedly had the drill and gave him the invoice numbers. The owner said not to give him any money because that same scam had been played about 2 years earlier. I went along with the scam - wanted him to give permission for me to contact the airline that he flew over on (airline would not release a yes he was on that flight or no he wasn't - have to protect the scammer). He refused to give permission - I didn't trust him. Told him I would give him the 1000 if he would give the permission - he still wouldn't. Unfortunately, before all this had occurred, I sent him 2 nude headless photos of myself at his request (hey, we were in love). Now he is threatening me that if I don't give him $300 (for the cost of him sending me roses ) he will put those photos the internet. But once I pay, what will stop him from coming back over and over again requesting more money. I have alerted Facebook and google over this scam. I have one week reprieve until he goes public with the photos (told him I needed to wait until I get paid).
His name he uses is Mark Ferguson, also goes by Mark Roberts, originally from Edinburgh, but now in San Jose, CA. He is very good looking and writes exceptionally well. What a con artist. He also uses Facebook, but has either blocked me from seeing his profile (so I couldn't post that he is a scam artist) or he has stopped using Facebook. Who knows what he really looks like because I'm sure he hacked into another guy's Facebook account. I guess it's the live and learn. You can bet that I will never correspond with another unknown person from the internet wanting to be my friend.

We are definately talking to the same guy. Did he send you a picture of a passport. He says his name is Michael Anthony and he's a geological engineer. He is reluctant to talk about the drill operations because I am a geologist and I have worked in the petroleum industry. His terminology for the equipment is incorrect. He says he is in Turkey on a military base. One of his photos is atop a dam near Incirilic AFB. He needs over 6k to replace a stake-bed tow truck (he calls it a tow rig wich is not correct a rig is a drill vehicle that looks similar to a big truck with a drill machine on it.) the type of work he would be doing would not utilize a rig unless it was being done incorrectly. Additionally if there was an accident the insurance would immediately replace the equipment within hours. I know because I had this happen to one of my projects unfortunately. I told him I would not give him cash but when he returned to the states we could incorporate and I would handle the insurance so this did not happen again. He hasn't answered. That was April 24, 2017.

This past week a Robert Clinton tried to scam me using a military photo (good looking) said his mom was from Edin. - that he was born in San Jose CA. Birthday (supposedly) Sept 29 1981 --I have screenshots and lots of saved messages before his Tinder account disappeared. We moved to Google hangout. In a matter of a day he was professing deep love for me and wanting to have children with me. I was terrified! I knew he couldn't possibly be deployed in Afghanistan. It's sickening what these people do for iTunes cards! That guy whose picture he used might be a fallen hero- or just swiped from a random account. I sent him a photo of a used iTunes card ;)
I wonder if he used the same pictures with other people too.

Tinder experience - same exact story & first name talked about mom & iTunes cards fir information to turn in his assisgnmeht and be sent home. How and where is there a place to share photos?

Can you send me pictures? This guy is been talking to me its hilarious.

Is this gut bald with huge arms? Says he is from Belgium and an engineer for oil industry.

A scammer named Steiner V Derek got hold of my sister on another dating site. Had her give him her bank account info and send $100 to Africa and $50 to Canada. He sent her a cheap ring. I found him on facebook and got him to add me and sure enough all thr scammer warnings shot up several red flags. He wanted to send me a ring, he loved me, his wife was cheating on him (later on he said she had died). They had two sons ages 21 (later said 19) and 10. She had the older son and he had the younger son and was bringing him with him. He said he grew up in Africa, his dad was a missionary and had a life savings that he needed help in retrieving. I actually went as far as emailing the email address he gave me so I could see what would be said. Funny how the replys to my email came in less than 5 minutes. I could tell right off it was a scam. Wanted $1500 delivery fee for 900,000 dollars. I emailed back and said i didnt have the much only maybe a third of that. Got another reply from them stating i could do that but they still wanted the remainder. They had a name in the email (suppose to be scammers dads name) Timmy Anderson. He begged and pleaded for me to go get the moneygram. He took another mans pictures to use and when he posted one of them it had the letters "chaelAZ" in the lower right hand corner. I then searched the internet and came to youtube, instagram and the picta to a man named Michael Rosenberger who looked very happily married with two adorable boys and lived in Arizona. He had told my sister and I that he was living in New York, mind you that was where Mr. Rosenberger is from. He gave us an New York phone number. Constantly calling, texting and pm'ming. Laying the "I love you baby" "dear" "honey" words on thick. His profile had alot of likes by foreign people in Ghana/Accra and so did the groups he was a member of. T=Most likely this man has several fake profiles. Just remember ladies, anytime a stranger says he loves you right off the bat and wants you to send him money YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED. BE SMART DELETE AND BLOCK!!

A woman named Roseline Keith Johnson approached me on messenger. We got to chatting regularly. She told me she was in art sales and lived in Charlotte NC. One night, she informs me that she stands to inherit a lot of money and two houses left to her by her late father, a realtor. But the only way she can claim her inheritance is by turning 35 or getting married. She put me in touch with Payne and they wanted me to open a bank account so they could wire me some money! I did but Payne refused to wire the money. It's like he didn't trust my bank. He wanted me to go to DISCOVER and Barsus Clay. Watch out for these schemers looking for dupes to launder their ill gotten gains.

do you have pics of him? I have a guy named Mark Roberts asking me to send information to a security company that has some box but they wont send til I give them all this info. If its the same guy I would love to nail him. thank you

Hi! This sounds so awfully familiar! I was JUST asked to be a beneficiary to some 'box' with money in it. Looked it up and I knew it was bogus but oh well. Matters of the heart. Now the scammer has resorted to threatening to upload some raunchy photos of me if I don't pay up $350. Reported the issue to the FBI and local police, warned my friends & family about being contacted by a stranger. Run. Now. It's a scam. I should know.

This sounds like the same damn person only he's going by the name Georgia Walter and I'm out 20k. The same Alaska oil rig talk and the same can only text as no internet

I live in AK and our area code is 907 everywhere in the state and I also am dealing with a FB person who is fitting the discriptions here, an Engineer, lost his wife 5 years ago, has a 15 year old daughter only I'm going to be the one that makes a fool out of him and not the other way around. What I don't get is that I already told him I'm happily married and that I'm not going to fall for his scam but he wants to keep at it so I can play.

So what happened?

I met a guy on pof web site saying he love me his wife die with cancer he wants to get married he ask for my address because he want to send me something i gave my address 3 weeks ago i haven't seen anything then he started saying i need your help baby i need for you to get a bank account and put 5.00 or 10.00 in it because my boss going to put money in the account for you so you can go shopping and buy your self something nice i sta cussing him out i told him he was a Scam he said you hurt me i said you hurt me trying to get me to give YOU my bank account # but i hope he don't send nothing to my address his name is abdul aziz sedui these people are crazy he is from Ghana but i didn't send any money or my credit card informations he got a attitude im not talking to you anymore so i don't care i block him

Did he say he was in Afghanistan? Had 2 children and was a Sergeant in the Army? Just curious?

I would had told her "Too bad you found your way there now find your way back home." LOL
Sorry but these scammers need to learn we're not their piggy bank.

I too was corresponding with a UN MD working in Syria, fled to Turkey. Requested I put what's app on my tablet. Called several times. Then called from the "Bush" requesting money, his credit card wouldn't work! Immediately took off the app on my tablet and deleted him from Facebook.

If anyone here's the name Keith Henry please tell me

Hello anyone talk to anyone on kik says he was in the service in syeria let to see about his mom in ghana

I have been talking to a man since May 2019. He proclaims to be the head doctor at the United Nations in Syria. He approached me on Facebook befriending me. Very very handsome man. I accepted. We talked all hours no set time, just between patients, paper work etc. He was from Lancaster CA. He had a 14 yr. Daughter in boarding school in New York. Oh did he ever sweet talk me. Wanted to come home and make a home for us. Wanted me to get a divorce and Marry him. If I didn't want to live in Ca we would live wherever I wanted. But after 2 months I had fallen and was ready to follow him off the edge of bluff. Giving up everything.
Then when he said he could not access his money could I wire him $1,550.00 red flags started going off. I got into checking into information. I have cried until I can't cry anymore. These ppl need to be stopped. Such cruel methods to play with someone's heart to receive free money, sorry lowlifes.

I've been speaking to a guy who claims he is originally from Serbia but moved to the Chicago when he was 17. He claims to be an civil engineer and a widower. He claims he is in Amsterdam now on a contract but ran out of money. He has been asking for money to complete his project and now says he had stomach cancer. He also uses Bank of America and Wells Fargo. His alias with me was "Ryan Leister" but I have found several scams. I did however find the original person who stole his identity from. When I confront him he hacked the original person on FB and blocked me from notifying the real person of the photo.

I hope we can exchange pictures and other infos to help others not to get scammed.

Sounds like a man I've been talking to and met on tinder. His name is Alex Gerhard
Asked me to wire money to Dubai so he can pay his workers on the oil rig. And that his account is frozen.

I'm in it almost as bad as you. I feel alone and like no one in our government cares. We have so much information on these men that the ic3, ftc, FBI could use to catch them. But they don't want our information and say our crime is too small to spend the resources.
I'm out over. $100,000 but worst is I lost my reputation. I can no longer get a bank account, a credit card or any type of credit.
These men are a huge international group with people all over the world. I have information, pics, addresses, but no one wants that. Because these men are not going to be punished!
How can someone steal your life and you have no rights. All I want back is my name and credibility. Is that too much to ask for??

OMG, my story. How can those people be heartless

I have a question. Did you ever speak with a man who said his name was Miller Potter? He's supposedly an orthopedic surgeon with the UN in Syria.
Thanks

I've been talking to a man named Herbert Mundt. An orthopedic surgeon with UN in Syria. His wife died & his son is in UK. Yesterday, he said we should communicate on Viper. That's when he gave me the phone number starting with 402. After research, I saw this site. He says this # is the orthopedic dept. # and was given to him by unit chief and didn't know what I'm talking about! Totally a scammer. I'm mad at myself, but grateful I haven't given him any money.
Thanks

This sounds so familiar to me! I've been talking to a man named Dr. Clement Fred Thomas, Orthopedic Surgeon working in Damascas, Syria. He said he had a wife that died from cancer and his son is in boarding school in Kentucky (not in the UK). We communicated on Viber first but deactivated that account because I was getting nasty request from others I didn't know and I told him that so we talked on "Hangout". Gave me the sad sob story of that he was worried that he wasn't able to talk to his son whenever he wanted to because his son's phone got stolen so stupid me offered to help in getting a prepaid phone to send to his son. He stated that he wanted to get the new Iphone 7 for him that his son wanted that I told him sorry can't help with that. He said that's ok and we kept talk everyday. I was skeptical at first but then got hooked with his sweet and romantic words. He did send some pictures also so that threw me also. Then he asked me to send an email to the UN to ask for a vacation request for him so that he can come see me and his son. I didn't think it would hurt to do that so I did. When I got the email indicating that they would grant his vacation if I fill out request form (which was not attached) and pay the $5,000 in US money then I knew he was a scammer. I'm pissed at myself for falling for this scam and being so vunerable. Luckily I never sent any money to him since I don't have any, but it still hurts. Now got to build up my self esteem and move on. I'm not even sure if the pictures he send me of him is really him. Wish I could get ahold of the man in the picture and let him know he has been hacked and pictures is being used in a scam. Who do I contact to report this scam to?

Please report it at ftc.gov/complaint — click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams.

I can’t get the link to that page to work . I’m heartbroken and furious , and so ashamed . I’ve told all my friend and family how happy I am to have met my soul mate . I’m devastated but pretending I’m finding the whole thing funny . Couldn’t bare this to happen to anyone else from same guy . I didn’t realise how gullible I was . This man has taken so much more than money he has taken my Trust and heart . I didn’t think i was stupid I did research , or so I thought , he / they are either extremely clever or have stolen identities .

This is to answer these women's concerns. This surgeon is most likely a scammer from Nigeria or worse like a terrorist from some other country. These people both men and women steal identies of people in the US Government because they want to impress their victims. Think about this for a moment. How many men or women in the US Government able to fight in a war who happens to be in their 60's? Most of these people have retired from service. Anyway, question to yourself why they need money when they can afford. The young crowd call this catfishing. This site is right about looking up their image. Another thing is that you can look up the images of their family. Majority of scammers are using place as like facebook. Never put your correct address or town you live in on those sites. Never open email with an attachment from these people especially if it is pfd file followed by exe. That will be a virus

Harry James was the name that I was given from someone supposedly in Syria. He wanted to send me something from the UN so that he could be granted a vacation for us to meet and told me there would be a processing fee. His story was almost the same as yours Orthopedic Surgeon, wife died, one son. Wanted to chat on hangout instead of the im that I already had. Stupid me did download it. 

Those sweet and romantic lines he used would please almost any woman. When he brought up the money thing. That did it. We certainly weren't the two lovers that was destined to be and all the other nonsense he would say. The pictures were of a very clean cut nice looking guy. One even with his so called son. I doubt that was his pics at all. Just please be aware ladies. I could kick myself for spending any time writing to him and daydreaming. He got no money from me thank God. I just chalked it up to being a widow woman for to many years and still have my self esteem.

I think we have talked to the same guy but he used "Grant Johnson" as his name & direct messaged me there. I also got a pic of him w/his son. Did his son have red hair?

ellen j we have the very same person he is trying to get money out of me

I was nearly scammed from a man called Bolton Diane!! Supposedly worked on an oil rig and son in America wife died in car accident the picture is not him he had his identity stolen along with all his family pics! I'm trying to find the man in the photo who I think lives in Canada!!! I really fell for him too but didn't part with any money

I think we may be talking to the same guy. He said his name is Walter Angelo and that he works on an oil rig (Petronius) and that his son is 8, lives in America and his wife died in a car crash. He wanted me to buy him an Apple ITunes card, when I refused, he seldom texted.

Did he say his son’s name is Kelvin?

The one i was talking to had a son called kelvin. he used the widowed Un patrol gerneral who needed help for a vacation.

I'm talking to a united states army doctor he working in Syria is name is James Scott. His son nAME is kelvin

He trued to chat with me on hangout and looked him up and blocked his keister. Have had others do the same . I look them up on FB and google + and if they have less than 10 followers and only 1 picture or none of them I block them on both. The newest one for me is a guy named Charles J. James . Anyone had contact with him ? He is older would guess late 60's and has no psots or profile info.

I am talking to guy i met off Tinder Jackson Rob McGraw with a 8 year old son named Kelvin. 36 years old. Feb 20th is his birthday. States he works for "DynCorp international international intelligence program support. proudly serves in all locations, environments, and conditions to support optimal decision making and effective national security action by delivering balance and protection..." He has a sister in Spain. He wanted to send me money to give to his business partner. His last gf used to do that for him. He's always working overseas currently in the UK but lives in Downtown LA. Told me he loves me extremely fast, phone camera is broken so he's unable to send videos. I thought he was a catfish when i started talking off Tinder had a 415 number at the time and wanted to talk on hangouts. I stopped talking to him months later get back in touch on snap and now has a 213 number. I still think he's a catfish.

Hi,
I think this is the same guy that found me on Facebook in November.He went by the name Dr.Tom Wilson. He claims he's an orthopedic surgeon deployed in Syria. His wife died during surgery and he has a 14 year old son in boarding school in New Delhi India. His son has a matron by the name of Michael Chris. He said he was goimg to be retiring on February 28th but 3 days before he was to be leaving he was asked to stay to finish treating his patients and to train the doctor that would be replacing him. Lol
He also asked that we not chat on messenger or facebook for security reasons so we texted on Hangouts. He immediately asked for money for his son Kelvin and would get mad when I'd tell him I didn't have any money.He claim the money was for Kelvin because his money was locked in a security box in the US and he couldn't get access.

Im talking to a U.N. doctor he working in Syria . His name is James Scott and his son name is kelvin .

I met this guy in Tinder by the name of Sylvester Solomon. He told his wife left him with a 5 year old daugher and that he lived with his mother that is in a wheel cheer. He told me he want to marry me. But he spoiled it all when he asked me for money. I sent her $1,000.00. When I discovered he was a fake I blocked him. But I have a concern. He once sent me a video with his face telling that he loved me. Can't that be possible

Hello guys, ok, heres my story right now, theres this Greg_rodriguez25 on instagram whom i met online a month ago, we chatted a lottle, then one day we had this long chat to introduce ourselves... He told me he work as a captain pilot in Berlin Germany, but born in Guatemala and raised in New Jersey.. he has a 4 yr old daughter, cheated by his wife and divorced for 2 yrs now.. the fact that i am having the same trouble about this cheating issues, i was hooked emotionally on him and we chatted everyday till now we still talk.. he called me eveyday, last feb he was so down and ask if he could help me to send money to her daughter's birthday, he ask me €600 but i dont have that large amount of money so i tried sending €100 to Tsasha Smith in North Carolina, to his mothers assistance thru Western Union... And the conversation went on day by day, then one day he told me that he will be flying to Turkey and staying there for 2 weeks, when he arrivd there, he told.me where he will be staying, then after a week of his arrival at Turkey, he got sick, so he was so depressed that he doesn't have enough money with him bec the other card of his was left to his house at Munich, so he ran out of budget.. so he asked me if i can help him to have $300, and i said that i dont have and my work didnt pay me for the month..and then i got suspicious, i searched his fotos over google and ask some of his friends in aviation and fortunately, one of them replied telling me that he is not absolutely the person whom i am chatting... i confronted him and he keeps on telling me that he has reasons and i need to wait till he get back to Germany and he will prove to me that im wrong with all my accusation...

Wow, I met a guy yesterday on tinder said his name was Frank and he was in the Army at fort hood, he immediately asked me to go to hangouts so we could talk, said we could concentrate, he called this morning but connection was not great. He has italian accent.said he was born I Italy. I have 2 pics of him, bit can't find any socialmedia or Google image and not the same pics. So is he real???

Do you have a picture that he posted as himself? I may be dealing with same man. Do you recall what he said his son’s name was?

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