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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 Alex Fleming on zoosk. We were chatting for a month when he got a bid to work in Cape Town as a engineer. Soon after he got there didn’t have his business license. Then, he got called and retained at customs because they didn’t properly do the shipping papers for his equipment sent down for the job. He owed money. Then when the job was over he was held in customs because he bought diamonds and the Kimberly document wasn’t valid to leAve the country. They retained him for over a year until it was paid up.He made up all of it. He was such a good actor, I am most angry at myself for wanting to believe him but would fight with him all the time and he would deny the truth. I was going through a divorce. I was so vulnerable. I don’t want anyone else to go through this nightmare. He said he is from Belfast, Ireland. Wife died. His daughter and mother in law were living with nanny in Belfast. Even spoke to them or whoever they really are. I was so blind. Love can be like an addiction. The attention I got from him was unreal no pun attended. Stay safe, alert and strong. God bless you. The lesson I needed to learn was love yourself first.

I also have been involved with Alex Fleming since December of last year. He had to go to Washington for a seminar the 1st week of January and also meet with a prospective boss for a job. He won both contracts but took the one in Cape Town because it was only for 6 months & didn't want to be away from me longer than that. Once he arrived in Cape Town, he said 2 of the 6 pieces of luggage he brought were stolen somewhere between London & Cape Town. They contained his 2 new Apple phones, Apple computer, work tools and credit cards. He is an EXCELLENT METHOD ACTOR!!!

He talked me into purchasing Apple phones for him (buy one get one free) against my better judgment. He kept wearing me down by saying I was the only person he could count on....blah, blah, blah. Next he tried getting me to have money put money in my account and send it to another person. My bank put a stop to that REAL fast...I just wanted it out of my account. Then he said he needed money to send to his mother in law to take care of his daughter.

He was supposed to leave a month ago but supposedly there was a workplace accident and he was injured and had to be hospitalized. He even sent a picture of him in a hospital bed. Then he said he needed $1385 to pay the balance of his hospital bill before they would let him leave the country. The final straw was when he supposedly called from the airport getting ready to go through Customs. At 2 am their time, he calls and says he is being detained because he had 10 diamonds on him but no certificate for them and needed $5,000 for it. I told him good luck.

This man was talking about us going to Sarasota, Florida to look at houses and he was going to buy one with the $1m bonus for getting his part of the job done within 6 months. He was also talking about getting married...he said he had even written his vows. The last time I spoke with him 3 days ago & he asked if I would wait for him...WOMEN EVERYWHERE, PLEASE, PLEASE DONT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID.

P.S.. Life101..If Alex sent you a picture, I would like to compare. He sent me 1 of his deceased father, his "daughter" and 4 of himself. Did had tell you his daughter's name?

You and every other victim are dealing with the fraudulent governments of Nigeria, ECOWAS Economic Communities of West Africa and South Africa. They are the rich "entrepreneurs/traders" and mainly the Igbo from Nigeria. Don't also be deceived by such as "Italian/American/British" accents because these SOB's are from the rich royal families/kingdoms in Nigeria that send their brats to the best universities in the US and UK to become scamming doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. They are greedy filth living overseas in expensive properties, cars etc and huge bank accounts

I was scam by this new Yorker to he was a romantic he spoke every word that was kind to me he respectfully talk to me over Five months in states he was a enterpuer in treated me that he was taking me to court after he scame me he place money in a banking account in then he scam me he states he was a widower in he has a daughter she was a 16invade was living with family in how he wanted to come in live in my state and have a life with me women don't be decieve!

Hi. I having been talking to a guy who says he is from New York (Long Island) and he is on a business trip in Turkey. I just found I out from the bank that the money he transferred was fraud. He has a daughter who is 14 now. She left me a message to thank me for the Itunes gift card. I fell for him and he was a sweet talker. There was always something wrong after the first month. His business needed a new piece for his drilling machine, hospital stays and not having money for food. I feel ashamed and I feel like a fool. I saw the signs and somehow he promised it will be fixed. He says he is French and has an accent. He told me his wife died from cancer. I texted with his daughter or God knows who fro months until her phone broke. That's so funny. Once I got a call from the bank I texted him and told him never to contact me again and I blocked and deleted all of his information. I am wondering if anyone else had a similar experience talking to this scammer. My family knew and told me to stay away;but I didn't want to believe it. I feel relieved it's over and hurt and sad by this gruesome experience. I would like to communicate with anyone with this similar experience. I believe nothing he told me was true.

Sounds like mine.. three days in, he supposedly lived near me, moved here from Texas 4 years ago, is 58 and an engineer. Had a wife named Jane who passed away, a son John (19) and daughter Marcella (23). He is using the name James Rollings. But when I do a search on him, or his company, or any of these names, I find nothing. I even pulled a report on him and couldn't find strong evidence, so Spidey senses are going off. I've insisted we need to meet, but magically, he's working overseas as well in Turkey and will be coming home in 2 weeks. Told him great, when he's back in the states, we'll meet up, but until then, not doing anything more. Wish he was real, but oh well, the dude got nothing from me except my real name, and I'm putting lifelock all over that now... Daters beware.

Sounds like the same one I have been talking to ,but I didn't send him the iTunes ca re he wanted and I blocked him ,he sent lots of pictures and love poems after only talking for two days , he claimed to have a six year old daughter and he's from turkey , has his own oil company, Goes by the name Aron Dawid

I started talking to a Man who sent me a friend request on Facebook. I called him out immediately and he sent me a copy of "his" passport. We continued to communicate via Facebook , emails and phone. After a month of talking it happened. He was a Maritime Security expert pulling into port and this was his last mission , flew to Port of Cyprus which he has called me from a Cyprus number said he was being detained due to a large sum of money(client paid in cash) and a firearm he used for his job. He stated he was from the UK and had even called me from a number listed in the UK. I sent him money and he then asked for a larger amount , which some how I've managed to resist sending. His name was Axel Gate, anyone heard of him. I can't find any of his pics on the internet but have managed to locate his email address with limited info...            . I have been in contact with "his attorney" via email.He has went to great legnths to carry this out. A website for the attorney and for Axels business. Part of me still wants to believe.

The situation you describe sounds like a romance scam:

  • someone you don't know contacts you out of the blue
  • he asks to be your friend
  • he claims to work overseas and to be in several different countries
  • he wants you to send money

If you send more money, you probably won't get it back. Scammers usually ask you to send money by a wire transfer or bank transfer, because the transfer happens quickly.

Guy on plenty of fish, using name George Willy except george is spelled incorrectly.... He set it up from beginning, he was trying for a big contract, day we were going to meet, he had to pack because he was leaving in 2 days time to go to Cyprus.... His daughter lives with family in New York/George is supposedly Dutch... This guy is calling me from a local number... He has a health condition which will require a special medical flight home...$6000. But he only needs $1500. I have called him a liar, I have told him GOD may strike him for swearing he will pay me back. I even asked him how long was he going to continue this farce ? Today I shall tell him I will loan him the money. So, I will begin recon on this house to figure out, just how they are involved. I have an ear for accents and dialects This person is Nigerian. So whomever is writing responses from the FTC on this site, better contact me before I get to these people.......

The guy I was talking to is also located in Cyprus or near Cyprus. The number he called me from originally was New York and then business took him to Turkey. I am wondering if he is the same person using a different name. Is he bald, blue eyes and has a possible french accent. He sent me pictures of him wearing a cross. I also got a picture of him and his daughter. I would like to communicate with you because I think we might have the same guy. From what I'm reading regarding scammers they change some information out and are even able to get overseas phone numbers. I also feel the same way, he is still denying the truth and parts of me still wants to believe he is telling the truth. However, all the red flags are there. I asked to see a copy of his U.S. passport he did not respond. I told him that this is another sign that he is a scammer. I don't know if we are allowed to talk to each other via email or phone. I will hopefully, get the response via this comment if we can communicate if it is O.K. with you. Take care.

I was talking to a guy for the last 45 days, goes by the name Chris Morgan. Says his daughter is in the hospital and needs surgery right away. He has asked me for $10,000, then $5,000 then said his secretary came up with $3,500 and all he need now was $1,500.00. He has sent me pics of himself and his 2 children, several times.

I would like to know if he has a daughter and son. The guy that I have been talking to in the last 4 months has tattoo on one of his arms saying Daddy loves you Taylor his son's name is Blayne tattooed on the other arm, a tattoo above his belly button and the name Jenni tattooed on his right rib cage. Please contact me at . Just to see if it's the same guy. Do u have any pics?

I think I have the same friend. I know he is a scammer as I've done much research on him. Says he is from Utah. Traveling now to Malaysia on business. I'm just waiting on the "send me money" request. I did a image identity search and that came up as someone else and when I checked his fb page, there was a comment about his photos were being used by someone else. The person who I'm talking to goes by Robert L Neufeld. I have 3 phone numbers he gave me. Claims he lives in Salt Lake City. Has a 8 year old daughter. Has sent me pics of him and daughter, but they are pics of the person and daughter whose pics were stolen. Do you think this may be the same person?

Update on Neufeld. This was very interesting. When I would not give him money, he closed his FB account. I have been watching for him to come on as a new person and sure enough, yesterday, he started building a account. He is now, Neufeld Robert and is the CEO of Philanthropy. Guess what, that is what I am. He is raising money for the Indonesian Red Cross. Today that has changed and he is raising money for Asia, Manchester and Jamaica. I'm amazed at how many identities this man has, however, most of them have the same city, state. Utahn, Utah. He also goes by the name of Neufeld Robert L, a US Lieutenant General, living in Fallujah, Iraq, but from - Utahn, Utah. There is also another Robert Neufeldl, who claims to be in Ramadi, Iraq and from Utahn, Utah. Upon doing a google image search, these photos were stolen according to      There is also another Robert Neufeld, who says he works for some lottery. I just got an invitation to connect with a Scott Williams, that when you google his name, is also a known scammer. Suddenly that request has been taken down. I'm wondering if they are not all connected. Please be careful. You can always copy their photo and do a google image search. Beware of those named Robert L Neufeld. I find they have used different variations of the name. Neufeld Robert L, Neufeld RobertL, Robert Neufeld, Robert L Neufeld. Thank goodness I did my research.

Roxie, thank you for the tip to look for the scammer by copying photo in Google. It work. I found my scam there and I was surprise to read how many names he has: Evans Benito, Steven Carlos, Frank Griffson, Tomas Dijoux. I was in one piece. He is a great lover. Say he lives in San Francisco, CA, but now I dont know. He has the same story: flight for business to London for and then flight to Ghana to complete the business and one day he needs money...... He is a huge scammer.

Back in 2015, I decided to try dating again after my husband passed away in 2013 so I went on Plenty of Fish & a man started communicating with me & coincidentally he went by the name Neufeld Robert l ,after about 3 weeks he was saying the " I love you " stuff, then saying he was going to lose his house & him & his daughter were going to end up in the street ,he said he was from Utah, Illinois then he said he was a civil engineer, then said he was having to go to Malaysia on business, that's went the money request really started claiming he was in a car wreck & needed money for the "surgery "on his leg about $6,000 then he needed another $6,000 for another "surgery" on his arm then after his "alleged" car accident he claimed he had no way to leave the country on top of all that then he wanted money for food. Then when I told him I have no money he then claimed he got " robbed " & needed money for a place to stay . When I questioned him about the name of the so called hospital he was in he claimed he couldn't read it. After the scam ended then I saw him on Facebook using the same pictures he used on me but using a totally different name when I sent a message to the "different " person he was claiming to be about the pictures were being used by a scammer next thing I know I'm getting a message from Neufeld Robert I wanting to know why I told the "new" person about the pictures being used by a scammer.

I have been getting money requests from a guy named Mac Wood. He says he’s in Lagos. He wants MoneyGram sent to him because he says he is stuck there. Has anyone heard of him??? Says he’s from Manchester, England.

I got a friend request on Facebook and accepted it. We started messaging back n forth for 2 days. He said he lives in New York, but will not say where. He says he is in business in London. He had his friend call me on private number and in a threatening manner. Both asked for bank acct, didn't give them one because I don't have one. The one that called wanted PayPal passwords. I didn't give it to him. Threats of hurting my family and the guy said he knows where I live. I blocked the guy on Facebook and phone number. I do not know what to do.

My dear Susan, they no nothing about you. Its just a mere threat . Be strong okay.

Hello im in the same situation I met a guy in a dating site saying he is deployed in nigeria and looking for a wife...I gave him my email and yes he sent photos there and I gave my whatsapp number ..later he was asking me to send money thru money gram I said I dont have cash im going home next month..he said if I can send money cuz his internet is about to expired....I said I will send when I go home...then it came to my mind why not I search in google about this guy and his name is john diemel I did search and found out he is using alot of facebook accounts....but I gave my bank name..is it possible that he can steal my money? Pls help I need answer

If you give someone your name, your bank's name and your account number, it is possible for him to take your money.

If someone asks for your bank account number and says he will put money in your account, he might take your money instead.

Yes dear,I had the same thing happen to me.You ask about help. I am looking at photos on the internet. You can do a photo search that will pull this man's pic up for you. I'm doing it mainly to let this man know his I.D. and pictures are being used. It would how ever be such a remarkable thing if I could end up meeting with the real man and him not be married but if he is, So be it. I'll still be happy. Thanks

Can you tell me what site you use to do a photo search. I became Facebook friends with someone who started messaging me. His Facebook is sketchy with few pics and only a couple likes from other single females spread throughout US. He also sent me a couple pics from there but no way to tell for sure if it is him or someone else's pictures from Facebook. Would love to do a photo search.

Just curious what this guys name is that friended you on Facebook? It sounds exactly like the guy that I've been emailing and messaging..! A few pics from him, but he has no friends on Facebook and never posts anything.. Very skeptical..

Yep me too I have figured out the same thing u can tell how established they are by lots photos and friends but not always I had a supposed to be military had two accounts . He also said his dad died in Army and mother killed in auto accident on her way for vacation to Italy and he was an only child. On the other account last name was different same guy posing with his brother in military uniforms with last name different he goes by Nicholas Johnston on one and Nick Millinger on other claims he's in Afghanistan working as civil engineer making $30,000 a month but could not get access to his account to apply for a leave which raised a red flag I knew that was not true because I had brothers who got their checks and sent them home to save,0.

He never asked for money because he knew I was on to him. I really liked him and much older so I said he could be my Godson and so it was we discussed the Bible and he told me how much he loved me an wanted to meet me and be a part of my family. I texted him fb and told him I found out he has lied to me haven't heard from him since I outsmarted him and some others who were scammers and now I won't accept friends unless I know of them or know them especially men all this fairytale love at first sight is bogus as I have always said u have to meet and spend time together to find out about them so don't let go of ur money if they need money u don't need them

Does sound familiar, but the name used is Scott Olu Nelson, from Jacksonville, FL, but currently stuck in Lagos, Nigeria! Have you heard this name used before?

Where do you go to a photo search to check out the guy that started chatting with me from the online dating website I was on. He only had 1 pic on the website but when I asked for more pics of him...he sent them to my email and they are the same person. well b4 we could meet in person he had a got a job in Malaysia to build a bridge and he has sent me pics of that also.. so if you could please tell me where I can go to do that photo search. Thanks

Kind of late for your request but you go to Images. google. com
A page will pop up that says "drop images here" The first pic I tired, didn't get anything. I am going to try some others, now.

Ya the samething is happening to me i met this Nigerian on this dateing sites but what i found weird was that when i want back to the dateing site her profile was gone

I surfed the internet and went to a country music site and found a woman that was beautiful. We talked and I fell for her, I told her I had feelings for her, and she said the same. I sent her money when she needed it, I sent her money to come to my home. I live in Ohio and she in Illinois, Well excuse after excuse she never came, this went on from March 2015 to October 2016, I lost my home due to sending her money instead of paying the house payment, then I told her I had to be out of the house by the 30th of September, and had no place to go, and I had to live in my car. Well I lost over $24,500 and guess what I have not heard from her at all. Her money source ran out.

Is this mans backstory that jos wife died and he has s little girl . Wife died of lung cancer , in the crude oil business , and worried he won't have enough to care for him anc child in Nigeria since he sent. Any home to Norway.

I have one who wife died and has a aliitle girl, in oil dig business in Cambodia, move from New Jersey, home from Norway? Need money fix net work problem . I search all phone number and email and picture from scam web site , try to find a list , but didn't find any natch to him. Any one similer to me?

I too was scammed by Nigerian man called Collette more blessing know as Olaitan blessing he told different stories said he loved me I too fell in love ❤ but I cant find him now

This guy I met on this site he said he love me and if I help him out he said he wants to marry me and scam me out of my and he said he need money to eat on because he was in Africa I was Stupid he never pay back

how were you able to find out truth of eharmony scammer?

I'm trying to buy something online from Cameroon and I need to pay with money gram the seller has sent me a link with a bunch of numbers and letters instead of a name and destination is this a scam attempt , or what is the reason for all the letters and numbers

i had the same situation. its a scam. a girl sent me a picture of her. she said she was from Philly, lives in Texas and has business in West Africa.. when we finally talked her voice didnt match her photo. in her pic she looks white. i never met a white woman with an african accent. two she asked me to open a account and to send her money. i quickly cut her off, u should do the same.

Hello Melanie;
As I read your response to the other woman, I felt BOTH of you gal's dismay! Believe it or not, when this happened to me in 2009, it was just beginning and I went on a dating site.
The man I met was attractive, and called himself Michael. I have forgotten the last name. But he stated he was from Spain, but now lived in New Jersey.
Anyway, bottom-line, this guy really invested in me first. I argued with my family that it wasn't a scam, because he had ordered Flowers, Candy, and a Teddy Bear from a local Florist here. I mean, who does that?
He had me hook up to a computer camera, but he always gave reasons why he couldn't connect his. Oh heck! THEN, this goes on for like, a month.
He EVEN gives me his daughter's Facebook name and account, which I went to. It seemed to be valid, I mean she had a slew of friends, in the country she was attending University in. I mean, this guy was REALLY slick!
THEN, one night he tells me how his important briefs for a business deal where he was is on his Laptop, and how the laptop fell on the hard=tiled floor and broke. He asked me if I could send him money for another one. I even tried to order one through Best Buy, but they told me they do not ship out of the U.S.
So I told him that, he said that was ok, just send him the $$ then. At that point, bells went off. I immediately blocked his email address, marking it Spam. THen, later I get a private FB message from his "daughter" who is asking me why I broke her father's heart.
I mean, this was an absolute psuedo-drama, right? Lol! Later, I called our florist and sheepishly told them about this scammer and identified the order to them. They told me when they had tried to put it through on the card given, it did not pay. I still don't understand why they went ahead and filled the order and had it delivered to me.
They told me they would not be charging me for the merchandise (relief!) and if they got any information, they would pass it on. Weird!

How did you find out the name. I am recently a possible victim. This one says he is a art dealer. He used God in his game. Now apparently he is stuck overseas and need help to get his merchandise home. He was all love caring concerned and when I baited back by stating that I couldn’t send anything else he lost his temper. My heart time and money also involved. Some like this makes me feel ugly. I have never done anything like this before

I felt the same..voice didn't match his picture. Name is Eric knoll. Glad someone else felt the same.
Lindy

Please think about yourself..and shut the door and run..U will find real love in time

This is what I'm dealing with....what name is he using

he is using the name "James Bongani" and owner of "Construct It" is using the Viber app as a way to communicate away from the EH website..I hope this helps you in search

Please, please, please, take the time to enter a complaint in the IC3 web site at https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx This is the main site where international police can work together to get these rings and stop these types of gangs. If we all pool our information, we can help law enforcement find these people and stop them. The other thing we can do is share all the names, phone numbers, email addresses FaceBook profiles and other identifiers here and other Romance Scam sites on line to warn others. It is not only helpful to yourself, but it might save someone else from losing a lot of money. I am with you. I have lost a lot--including my self respect, but I am determined to DO SOMETHING NOW. 2016 is OUR YEAR to FIGHT BACK.

I agree, please enter a complaint with the IC3 website. Also file a complaint with the FTC. Forget about the embarrassment, the shame and the guilt. Do it for yourself, your loved ones and friends. Don't let these criminals get away with stealing another dime.

I have been talking to a man from brikama Africa. He started asking for 500.00 and now he is down to 100.00 I feel it is a scam but he tells me his family has no food or money for food. I haven't sent any yet but he sure is trying toake me feel sorry for him. His name is lamin darboe he has a facebook account and I found out recently he has several Facebook accounts.

I was taken by a man Ugoeze Marvelous from Ghana..what a fool I was

Accra maybe? Do you have a picture of the real man?

Is there any acount with this : lamin gassama

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