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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

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The guy who contacted me through Instagram used the name Richard Williams (Account has now been deleted). He claimed to be German and an Orthopedic Surgeon. He also asked me to move to Hangouts. He said he had lost his wife and son 5 years ago in a car accident. His mother died giving birth to him. He said he had a 14 year old daughter named Ella. Many things he told me made me suspicious so I started searching him up and I figured out he was using the photos of a real doctor in Turkey. I automatically blocked him and reported him. He hadn’t asked me yet for money.
Beware ladies!

Hey, I was wondering if you had a picture to compare? This sounds so very extremely close a situation a very dear friend of mine is going through, she and her two sons and sick mother lost their home due to sending him money. Constantly asks for google play cards literally every day, I myself am pregnant and so stressed out because I’m exhausting myself worrying about my friend and two young sons, I have pictures also would be delighted to share with you, I was also wondering do you only speak on hangouts? Or do you have a real phone number for him?

I was chatting with this person the same time you were! The building materials being held up in customs.... I told him I had an attorney friend who specialized in international matters and could help him. Looking back so many inconsistencies in his stories I never sent him a dime Sorry you were duped. He is proof that looks are everything—- his soul is ugly!

You can send a of him to email if you want

I had been talking to a Swedish man named Michael, civil engineer, age 58, who had the same exact story except he said he just finished a job in Turkey and they paid him with a Turkish check and he couldn't cash it. He needed to get out of Turkey because of the virus and didn't have access to the check (same story, can't access his account) and needed $7000 for a first class ticket back to the US. He's stuck in a hotel over in Istanbul and needs to leave but can't because he can't access the funds. Claimed he lived in Patterson, NJ. with his dog, Teddy.
Sent me several pictures and even one of him and his late wife (lost his wife and son in childbirth 8 years ago)
He was real smooth and wasn't pushy at first. He will take his time and get you sucked in. He said he thought we should be together.
I did a reverse image search on some of the photos he sent me and I found his photo on Tender under another name and the same description of himself, etc (engineer, etc) so it was the same guy. But it said he was in S Cal. I'm in N Cal so I was a bit freaked out. The Tender site shows the last time he was on Tender was just 2 weeks earlier.
Wow, I hope no one else falls for this guys scam. Short mousy brown hair, med build with mustache and goat tee, sometimes no facial hair. Showed me black and white photo of him and his late wife. Never talked to him on the phone but much to my surprise he called me through video chat on IG when I blocked him on Google hangouts. I didn't answer and blocked him on IG.

He left IG quickly after I confronted him about trying to scam me and I just discovered he's back on IG with a new account using the same name, Michael Maggie. Stay away from this guy.

Hi my Swedish love interest working in Turkey as a Civil engineer. Swedish accent. Moved very quickly. Asked for money within the second week. Did not send it. The things he said just didn’t make sense to me. He goes by the name Jake Mitchell from South Dakota.

I from past couple of weeks I hve been talking to a guy from Baytown Houston Texas,he found me in Instagram,he told me his a drilling engineer,his wife died of brain cancer n hve a 14yr son,last week he told me that he needed help ,he told me to send 700 hundred dollars iTunes card which I did but today he wants 5000 dollars for his new contract which his wrking in Venezuela,I ask him to talk to me in video call but he made a story,I asked him abt his home address but he give me wrg address so ths all made me thk abt smethg fishy

What was his name? Have a guy messaging me on Facebook...exact same story.

I from past couple of weeks I hve been talking to a guy from Baytown Houston Texas,he found me in Instagram,he told me his a drilling engineer,his wife died of brain cancer n hve a 14yr son,last week he told me that he needed help ,he told me to send 700 hundred dollars iTunes card which I did but today he wants 5000 dollars for his new contract which his wrking in Venezuela,I ask him to talk to me in video call but he made a story,I asked him abt his home address but he give me wrg address so ths all made me thk abt smethg fishy

I had a bit of a run in with heinrich powell woodson. And yes he is not a very nice person at all. He started off being very nice, talking about he's daughter and mother. And saying what he's ex wife did. And tells you how he finds it hard to trust women now.. And he thinks that maybe you could be the right woman for him. He would like to get to know you more and see we're it may go from there. He will give you an email address for he's mother so that you can talk to each other. Which he did. But you don't know if its he's mother or not or he is the one that your really emailing and getting emails back from her / him. And after a few months of talking. He started asking for help cos he was working away and he could not get into he's bank account, cos it had been hack into. So could you maybe get him an iTunes card, just to help him out. And when you say that you can't do that cos you don't really know him, cos you have only talked by emails Instagram, Facebook or hangouts you can't do that, that is when he turns nasty. So in the end I had to stop talking to him block him on all the sites. But a few days ago he was back on Facebook and I just had to block him again. So lady's please if you every come across this man. Please don't get involved with him just block him right away. Thank you and please keep safe...

I am an educated man but fell for the scammer bought itune cards belived the lies because i was looking for a date which never happened tried video call but her phone was working properly feel like a fool girls it can happen to men too this started on Instagram and moved to hangouts what a fool i have been.

I just fell for the same thing; not as a love interest, but a good friend trying to support a deployed soldier in Syria. I believed the communication to be all about moral support and then it came; a request for ITunes. When I confronted the person he went from really sweet to angry and hostile. How could I have been so duped. There were signs, I should have know. A very bland facebook page with little to no activity, only a few photos of what appeared to be a soldier in Syria. The story; deceased parents, A little daughter in boarding school, waiting for his retirement papers (there over one year). Graduate of WestPoint but not a lieutenant. Didn't understand the question "enlist date?). Guess I just wanted to believe this person needed a friend. Private email also suspicious. Not sure who's picture is really used on facebook, poor guy is being used as a fake soldier. , Syd

Do you have a picture

He has sent me a couple pictures of him and it says Navy and ford on the uniform

is this his Email address believelife2019

I am going through the exact same thing a person in the Navy that they’re acting like that in Syria saying that they can’t get to their money and has a daughter and is asking for iTunes gift card which I have sent $1000 already and asking for more and now I feel like a fool because I believed this man and I first met him on Instagram and now after my bank called me I told this man about I’ve been calling me and now he deleteHis Instagram and acting a lot different for me but same here says he is a Navy and is deployed in Syria

Hi I’ve met a woman on instagram started off just talking the usually stuff. Then she wanted to move to WhatsApp we’ve been getting on well but she has told me she is widow and struggling and has ask me to send her money and gift cards She says she wants to met and has fallen in love but when ever I ask for her address or other details she avoids the answer
I’m hoping this is not a scam as we seem to get on but how can you tell

It’s a scam. Usually they take you off the site to a private chat where they try to gain as much info about yourself to see how much money they can gain from you and possibly use your details to scam others. They usually tell you the most devistating lies so you feel sorry for them and make up fake documents and stuff to support their fake stories. My scammer kept saying he would commit suiside if I didn’t help him. I highly suggest you report it.

It’s a scammer. Sorry man I ask myself what is this world coming to.

please run dont look back

Jpatalano, sorry this happened to you it’s happened to me as well. There are good women and men out there. We just have not found them yet

Hi Jpatalano; I am currently talking to a woman now who claims she is a nurse at hospital and was told she and 5 others are being transferred to go to Vietnam to help out a hospital to take care of children with heart troubles. I know in my gut she is not telling the truth because you don't get transferred to another country to help out unless your in the military. I was wondering if you have a picture of her by any chance? The one I am with is tall, slim, blonde hair, blue eyes wear red frame glasses that covers her eyes. I also believe she is married and her husband may be a part of it. Some the pictures I have had to be from someone else taking the pictures. If it sounds familiar please let me know. As of right now I have not given any money. She is suppose to go to vietnam and I suspect that is where the trouble will begin. Another thing she claims she is from Texas, but, wears New York t-shirts and ball cap. Another red flag.

Hello , this is very similar to my friend situation now he's met a nurse sending phone and money for bills / taxi / visa ect... she claims to be from Texas in ghana and her passport ran out and she's been in a car crash and needed money... he's never spoken to her only pic with hospital bed which I think looks strange and another hiding up a piece of paper saying happy birthday...??? do you have any pics it's sound very similar this ... worried for my friend need to do some digging on this thank you

Thats messed up!

I just escaped from a Con artist.

She said that she owns a Ranch in Mississauga and her father had secretly bequeathed her with two chests of Gold Bars. She wanted me to come to Quebec to transport the Gold Bars.

She couldn't understand, why I don't want to be part of this treasure. She also forwarded me a photograph. Initially, I thought she is truly looking for love until she started talking about Gold Bars.

Please don't fall for these

My guy asked for money. I accused him of being scammer. He got mad. I asked for a picture of his
Us drivers licence. Of xouese he refused. Blocked and reported. Ask for selfie of him holding his us id or open passport id. Send money to embassy for them if they show proper id.

What is wrong with us to believe these guys? I for one was rolling my eyes at the stuff coming out of his mouth after only days of messaging! Oh and what is it with the iTunes cards? This guy even sent me his Military ID! Looks legit but I’m having it checked and know it’s just photoshopped because the guy is way too young for so many medals!

I have been scammed since October of 2018 his name is Davis his email is DaviskMontalvo @gmail. com; he worked with a courier company I have the site and the name of the delivery manager, Samuel Chris, plus even a red cross agent they ripped me off over 53 thousand dollars. Then I met another guy Alex Cole his email is Alexandercole7777 @gmail. com; who said he would help me how stupid am I ???? I feel so stupid and helpless I helped him because he told me he would help me with sending me money I lost!! such a fool I am. I am scared to report them but I have sent a yelp notification not to use one of the courier companies Alex used MNGCourier.com in Turkey. I lost almost 100k.
but they still sent me emails and Davis even asked for a 100$ i tunes card I told him to go to hell. I tried to stay friends with him but when I questioned him if he was a soldier that is trying to rip me off he said dont listen to them its not true and he loved me and I never heard from him again.
Omg!! now I am trying to get a second on my house to payoff all my loans. its been a terrible year! I wish I could meet with one of you ladies so I can cry and tell you how sorry I am for all of us!! I am a good person and just want to help people. Now i can never trust anyone omg!!! feeling devastated!!!, humiliated!!!

I think i get the same thing like u, i'm just a student and got being scam for this girl she said she working on the ship as a chef and then she lost all her money from someone stealing it, then she asking money to help her, but in the end the money keep going and going up, and she said she will pay me back, but after this every thing still continue until now, i'm so stress right now idk what to do or talk with someone else, if you still on this blog or this website, if you can message me your phone or your email then i can share or help you something...

I am sorry to hear that this all happened to you. I have been searching on the Internet myself and have run into many scammers professing love after a short time of correspondence. I’ve learned that to never send money to someone you have never met before in person. I have been on Internet dating websites for months and have never met someone who was actually real. You seem like a very nice and wonderful person. I hope you find what you’re looking for here on the Internet.

I also just happened to me this guy pretending to have a daughter sending me pics of him and his daughter so annoying. Just yesterday pretended to have send me this and money which I declined as I was quick to realise that it was a scam. Oh thank God

I think we all should post the photos of the poor victims they are claiming to be. Wish there was a way the victim could know there photos are being hacked!

i was just being scammed :(
now Im trying to find this guy with the photos that the scammer gave me.. How can I do that? Now I really want to get to know this guy that the scammer send me..

Hi i was scammed also and the same with you i also want to know who was the man in the picture. Hope someone can help us know who is that man in the picture.

I have been looking for to find way to meet a real person from the pictures but no sucess . How can I get it ?

Watch out for Philip Richard In IG , his accent is Asian like Chinese , and pretending to be a German Guy with daughter and mom. He is not asking money but asking to use your “big account” in your bank , he said he will put money to your bank then you will just withdraw for him if he need it... he said he is a civil engineer , send a big German, handsome looking guy on his 50’s picture. Even send his daughter’s picture. Maybe he took those pics and pretend he is the one.. i suspected him when i tried sending him German /dutch language or messages but he did not react and did not explain . He called me on the Phone via Whatsapp and he does not want to use video call. He said he is in Cambodia now.

This sounds very familiar to what I'm experiencing at this moment . This guy says he's 53 named Damien from Canada sn engineer and needs me to get his check for him put it in my bank account . His pics showed him in Paris he had grey hair with a beard

I have someone who lives in Florida but is in Paris right now cause that’s where his dad lived. He lost his wallet and asked for a few hundred dollars for to add to some money for his plane ticket back to Florida. I told him I didn’t have it. He asked me Wednesday if he could transfer some funds to my bank account and have me purchase his ticket and then transfer what’s left to him when he gets home. He was supposed to be coming to visit me when his dad got sick and died in Paris. He is African with a French accent but says he’s a Black man who grew up in Paris. He shows pictures of his mom and daughter in SC. Says he’s an agent for State Farm but can’t locate him in the directory. Says he’s 56, 6’1 and has a pic of a Black brown skinned, bald headed slim man with a silver and black beard. Has a pic of a small dog called K9. Each time I say something about scam he becomes offended.

Where in Paris. What is he wearing?

Sounds a lot like the guy I’m speaking with. But goes by the name dale burkeen. I would love to see if it’s him if you have a photo or can confirm a photo I have of him. This sucks.

Do you have a pic of him

hello , can i know everything about this man, cause i met online a guy named dammy damien , i think he is a scammer, he said he is eng. in a cargo ship , he lost his wife and his parents, but she has a daughter, after weeks we chat he asks for money to buy medicines for her daughter, but i dont give him , can i see his picture please, thanks

Do you have pic still ? Does the daughter look 8

Hi Jolly, did he say his daughter is 8 years old? And that he is a widow . Age 53. Says he is Russian but he has a Nigerian accent.

I have a collage of photos The scammer sent me of him and his daughter. Is there a way we could share? I’d love to see if it’s the same photos.

What was the name this guy used? I am corresponding with guy same thing.

I have a photo of a guy who scammed me how do I share this

What did he say his name was? Sounds familiar sent me picture of him and his daughter

California Girl, I'm with you , I too am a highly educated professional women. This guys was the best I've ever seen. He was local, just 180 mile north of me and supposedly an architect. I checked out his office and website, it all seemed legit. It went on for six months before he asked for money, twice daily phone calls, texts and emails and the he left the country for work and yes that's when it got interesting. I wont bother with the story but i lost 24,000 and i could not afford to lose that much. I thought i checked him out pretty well, asked for pictures from where he was at the moment either his home, cab, hotel and he always sent them, even asked if i would meet his Mom and gave me her contact info...that i didn't check out i wish i had but doesn't matter now , haven't heard from him in two months and can't find him anywhere, website no longer exists and and phone number rejects calls, last call i got was from Cyprus.

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