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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I met a woman kind of same story. She has money due her and will deposit it in my account. I will send her money for a plane ticket. I don't think this is fake we text and have been on skype for over 6 months.

If someone you have never met in person wants to use your bank account, or wants you to open a new bank account for them to use, it could well be a scam.

Some scammers create dating profiles, and after they spend time forming a “relationship,” they come up a reason to ask for your help. A scammer can transfer stolen money into an account that has your name, and then ask you to send them some of the money. It may seem like you're helping out, but you could be helping with a crime. When the bank investigates, it will find the account is in your name.

AWESOME! I appreciate you saying that...I HAVENT read ANYWHERE someone saying they ask to deposit money into your account....AND IT is STOLEN.....HOW come all these dishonest people, seem to find the honest ones... is there a hidden mark on my face? haha

I think that girl could be a man - or the wife of a scammer. They will keep on working you - the phone request is a giveaway. They want the best phone and they I bet want an iPhone 7 or a Samsung (probably edge) - Ghana, West Africa - they work you and work you and until the end when they will start telling you all the catastrophes they are having, they get sick with malaria, typhoid, and everything else in the book and then they will tell you what about me I need medicine to survive and then probably their house burns down (that's what they say) and in the end you will end up giving them (or her) thousands of dollars - you will kick yourself for it at the end because you won't even know how all of this happened - how could you give in, but they are really good at it. They play you like a guitar, they play your compassionate feelings, will send you pictures of little boys that have been burnt in a fire telling you that is their / her brother and you will give in. And then comes the regrets. They also will start asking you to lend them the money, is not like they are asking they say to give to them, is just a loan. You never see your money again.

Those gorgeous pics of her probably belong to someone else. She is just priming you and stringing you along for awhile until she can get closer to you and then drop the guilt/ money thing on you. DO NOT SEND HER MONEY OR SHIP HER GOODS!

I just recently was scammed. Now a gorgeous man is on my Facebook. Lost his wife and kids 3 months ago. Is he real?

Georgia, is it possible that I can recover my loses if I will write to ic3.gov? OMG! I lost all my savings and loaned much, pawed my jewelries just to send to that man whom I trusted a real banker. I wanted to end mylife because of the loans and embarrashments and guilts. Please reply. thnak you and God bless us all VICTIMS

Never send money until you see them on cam...no excuses...also some scammers use video loops of other people too so be careful.

I would not trust the cam thing either. I lot of these scammers now are "independent contractors. Not always a big boiler room operation anymore. It only takes one or two Americans to make them rich in the countries like the Philippines, or Brazil... where the monthly income is less than $200 for an average worked.

They know how to do the scams just like the "professionals" Except they have cams, cell phones, and are real people. They will carry on a long distance love affair, it becomes their job to chat you up a few times a week.

I would suggest you NEVER send money until you have actually met the person (and be careful about that too) and you "feel" the love and sincerity like you would any relationship.

I also had this guy wanting me to send him money because he said his daughter needed a phone he said she is 19 years old and in college this army guy is out. Of California fake pictures of him his house suppose to own a boat plane wants to spend the rest of his life with me and he will be home for Christmas of this year nope not gonna happen
Calls his self capt

This guy is the same one who is asking me for money but in this case he is using diferenthe name cuthber b stillinger.he already with his lías got money from me until I find out that . He was a scammed .

Hi.. Im from the philippines this was long ago but just sharing that even people from Philippines are bictims of scammers too.. Met a CEO from eh.. Not much attraction and falling in love with him is not yet much.. He later ask me to assist him buy an expensive gadget amounting to 600 to 800 dollars for her daughters birthday. Poor english is there i noticed he doesn't show of on camera and all those stuffs.. Yes you are right minimum salary in our country is 200 to 300 usd.. But even us whose earning big wants to find love too.. And even people like us experienced being scammed as well.. Its all over global

Hampton hasn't asked for money he wanted me to send a letter to the army to get to talk to him. Hampton said for me to buy a calling card that cost $191.00.

Look, the bottom line is the US military takes care of their own. A real soldier or airman will NEVER, and I repeat, NEVER ask you for money for housing, food, clothes, or transportation. We get our troops to their duty assignments and unless they are MIA or POW, we get the back the exact same way. We don't need to use other peoples bank accounts!! Prior to shipping out or being deployed, we must prove our banking situation is squared away. Do not ever believe any one who says they are military and stuck and need money. We have our chain of command and in emergencies, we have the Red Cross. Hopes this helps!! God bless our troops!

i have one just broke up with me today. because i didn't send him money for his dying Mother i,am not giving him money that he keep asking me to send his Mother in Istambul Turkey.his Name is SGT James Rogers US Army from Maimi Florida.i meet him in face book last Feb 2 2016.i never meet him yet but? i do not agree that man well ask help from the woman if he had shame him self.if you guy's know's how to make them realize that not all woman can be stupid.Please... don't let then full you.do.not give then money.if they are a real military they have chain of command and they can also ask help with their command post for help.especially family problems.i have a picture of him that i keep in case.

I be been talking to a guy on Feb claiming that his rig needs fixing some type of engine for $ 3,500 is the price he needs to get it fix I don't have $100.00 to give out I need money my self but I really think he's a scammer

I need help I don’t know what to do anymore this guy keeps saying he is real and everything I been in a relationship with him for 10 months now and he has made me send him iTunes card for food and wifi and send him money for him to come home to me and he says that he loves me and wants to be with me and he has tried to get my bank information but I gave him a fake one and he got mad at me and when I got rid of him finally he told his friend to call me and he gave my number to whoever this guy Frank was and now I’m not sure if I should believe him of anything he says cause he is saying now he got arrested and that the police who arrested him for finding hard drugs on him says order for him to be released is to have bail money and they’re asking 1,500.00. And I told him I can’t send you money your people will have to get you out and then he gets mad again and says fine I will go to jail then don’t worry again about sending me money or anything to help me and he’s already lied about where he lives and his sons birthday I’m just wondering what to do.

Emergency leave , the army will still pay for this up to 3 month leave ? Also , will there always be an army plane , or commercial flight ? I have so many questions to ask.

This is something I have said all along too! The military are taken care of by the government and given what they need. However, it may not be exactly what they want or accustomed to but their basic needs are met.

While I'm making a post, has any of you ever heard of a Russian Orthopeadic Surgeon who is with the UN in Syria? He goes by the name of Miller Potter. His mother was from the US.

I was actually going to a recruiter's office tomorrow to see if someone there could give me advice. Maybe you can. I Met a US Army soldier on Mingle2. We have never met in person. He said he was on base in the US then shipped out on a covert mission within a week. Now it's a few days later and he's trying to find a way to get his money and if I can money gram him $1450 tonight for a satellite phone so he can talk to me and his children. Says his wife died a few years ago so he's a single father. My question is How is communication done when on deployment? I asked a few times how to send the money then when I said I would in the morning he sent the money gram info with a different name "Thomas James" in Nigeria. Sound like a scam to you?

Hi had a few questions and concerns I am talking to a sergeant US soldier who is serving the US Army currently on deployment to Iraq I only spoke to him once by phone he said he says he is unable to call me when he is able to call me he'll call me. He said they don't want deploy him somewhere else, but he doesn't want to go and he applied for a leave and they only gave him two weeks. He applied for his retirement benefits online, but he says he can only transferred his retirement benefits to my account. I don't understand why can it go to his bank account in the state that he resides and when he's not on active duty can anyone please help me and give me some answers please

I was also scammed by someone with the name of Mike Bobby an engineer from Bristol UK .He claimed to have sent me a parcel from UK .He even WhatsApp me the stuff he sent me even the copy of his Courier Service which was Global Access Courier Service. I sent the first money because apparently my parcel was in South Africa and I'm from Namibia .So he claimed that apparently he put 10000 pounds in the parcel which was unlawful so I have to pay $4000 to have it cleared. That's when I knew immediately it was a scam and I refuse to pay so he disappeared from my Facebook account and even on my WhatsApp.

The cam scam is that you see someone quickly but then the connection is lost or they don't have sound. They will claim their computer is malfunctioning etc.
Oh I think by this point I have encountered just about every scam type they pull but I have not lost a penny as there is one cardinal rule --- I will NEVER send money to anyone online. Now the new policy is if we don't meet in person for coffee and you are pumping me for everything you can to qualify me (to see how much you can con me out of ) then I rapidly am aware of their game. I turn them and their fake profiles in. At this point it's almost become an olympic sport - just how many nigerians can be uncovered in a day.

I received a friends request for a Lieutiant General Baca Lawrence I accepted him as a friend it started 1-25-2016 an I fell hook line an sinker he made me feel like a woman again my husband died 6 years ago an did he woo me we text each other until the end he was coming here he was on a peace keeping mission in Ugraine I checked all this out an Canada was there I even seen the picture on one of the Canadian sites (army) I honestly believe it was a picture was stolen the man looks to real to be a fake his uniform look real an I know they make great copies but this guy had a 18 year old son an divorced so please be careful he does have a romantic side to him but if some guy tells you he can't leave his camp or no way to get money please don't believe him an if he mention sending money to NATO it is a scam I sent 1550.00 an l got an other e-mail wanting more money this time 3000.00 I told him I didn't have that kind of money he wrote an they reply back saying 1300. With in 48 hours an he would be on his way I did not send it I blocked him an then he blocked me long story know who you know if you are lonely an if you are a senior citizen please go to senior center in your county do not look at face book for romance or friends I thought I was helping someone out being a good person I fell for a picture an when he said he was divorced he did not beat up on his wife an that was my first mistake swallowing that he is going to tell you how special you are an how lonely he is he said he had been divorced in 2009 his son is in military school an there is no one but his son an him also he is going to start wanting you to marry him an perform the cermony he will read out of palms he is are has find him another victim please check. Things out an run he is very smooth

I have been talking to a Barry Stuart Perlman. He says he lives in New York but is stuck in india without funds. I knew what he was the minute he friended me on facebook and said hello so I have had over two months of enjoyment making up stories for him. every time I go to send him money - some tragedy befalls me and I couldn't get there. He thinks I am a wealthy widow who travels the world giving to charity. Makes him upset that I give so much to the poor and he and his daughter are starving. He is very smart but I am smarter.

Keep up the good work.

@ red alert with cam please don't even send money xxxx okay

Don't trust cams, either. Scammers can try to lure you in by using 3rd party software that actually uploads a pre-recorded video & projects it through skype. They'll say "my microphone is broken," I'm going to buy a new one, and encourage you to communication via the keyboard/text messaging application....

But they are not really live on camera, though you may be!!!

Melanie, I feel your pain. I fell for a scammer and sent him money. I mean I fell hard. When I found out he wasn't real I attempted to hurt myself. I spent two weeks in the hospital and missed Christmas with my family. Our "relationship " went on for several months. He had all kinds of photos of him and his little girl. He went by Michael, and he called her Jenny. He was good.. We even prayed together every night and then he would sing to me.. I am still recovering. I don't know if I'll ever get over all of this mess.. Please, run!!

Josie: That is so sad but you are not alone. I fell for a scammer too and he sent many pics of himself and his 2 daughters. He also sang on phone to me and I still hear from him after I ended it a long time ago. I figured out what he was. Its devastating but you will overcome the pain.

Debb0420, what was your scammer's name, what was his profession, and where was he from?

My scammer name is Michael Barry. His daughter's name Jane. His mother lives in Sweden. His ex-wife in Ireland. Independent contractor working for British Petroleum in Alaska. Called me at 2 AM every day. Wanted 75,000 to buy a part for a broken pump. Already filed a complaint with IC3.

I have been dealing with a guy named Michael Been. Says he is from Denmark has a Son Ben.living with his Mom in Denmark. SAD stories that his ex wife cheated on him. He says he works for BP...then went on an assignment in Alaska to refurbish an oil rig. Once he supposingly gets to the Oil Rig he tells me the Internet was down and he needed to order pipe from China to finish his prodject. He asked me to pick up his emails and correspond with a company in China to order pipes. I stupidity do this for him. I was so astounded that he would trust me so much. Then he said he would call his bank for the payment for the ordered pipes....keep in mind he is romancing me the entire time ..calling me texting me that he has fallen in love and wants to marry me etc. Says all the things a girl wants to hear. He also sends me lots of pictures of himself. He looks like a gorgeous man with such a sweet honest face. I even did a light background check and found his Linkedin account matched his story..also a Facebook account. ..only little slip up was he had a different birthday than he told me...little tip off I feel so stupid for falling for it!. He then tells me that his bank will not wire the funds to China that they tell him he has to do it in person or simply do it on line...and of course he can't because the Internet is not working on the rig. He sweetly asks me to do it for him and gives me all of his banking information for Standard Bank. .again I can't believe how trusting he is with me and it completely sucks me in. I do it...over 900.000. I'm freaking out because it is so much money! He also has millions in this account! Then we received everything confirming that the the funds wire transfer is complete to China and the pipes have been ordered but he would need another 150,000 to ship the pipes. He asks me to wire that money as well and I can't log into his bank account anymore. It says I've been block..but strangely the bank link keeps bumping me over to facebook. I then see an email come through on his email from Standard bank saying that a fraudulent attempt was made on his bank account and it has been frozen. I give him the message and he freaks out...says he will call the bank. Then he calls me back saying that the bank has frozen his account and he has to come in in person to reopen the account. But be can't leave the Oil rig..he is almost in tears panicking (an Academy award act!) I'm completely sucked in at this point and feel terrible. He then tells me he is calling all his friends to loan him some money temporarily so he can get the shipment to complete the job and come back home to me..to live happily ever after... calls me back again that day and says he only has part of the money ....then he asks me for the rest of the funds to help him out so he can come home. THAT is when I knew I was being scammed. ..
I told him no..I spent all day yesterday doing a thorough background check...discovered catfish or romance scams.. called his 15 linkedin contacts and no one knew him or had ever done business with him.I did a reverse photo search on him and all kinds of things came up with his picture on several romance scam sites with different names but similar wild stories with need to wire cash. Also about 15 different profiles with his picture on linkedin and some on facebook....somehow I found the real guy that really matched the picture my scammer used. He use to be a male model years ago. ( that is usually where scammers get their photo identities from...modeling websites) I call the guys business listed on linkedin and they give me his cell number. I call him and tell him how I found him and that I believe my scammer is using his photos. At first he wasn't that concerned but I walked him through how to do a reverse photo search. He did it and called me back right away! He was blown away that so many of his photos were attached to so many different profiles all over the internet! He immediately contacted a friend that is a private investigator. He said that they Believe that my scammer is from Nigeria. ..several clues. I gave him all the phone numbers I had on my scammer. Also other big clues are that they don't sound like the nationality that they say they are. He said he was from Denmark yet he sounded black or from South Africa to me. They refer you as dear..or my love. ..they use babe, sweetheart and many terms of endearment. They have poor grammer...they use am for I'm..his profile said he went to Oxford. I MET THIS GUY ON MATCH.COM!!!Never saw him in person...never video chatted with him..yet I got so sucked into a 6 week virtual online relationship. I think I'm an intelligent woman and I started to fall in love with someone that I never met in person!!! I feel so stupid. This went pretty far. The scammer is still trying to contact me and convince me that Im wrong and that his information has been hacked and he is a victim. I really didn't want to believe that he was a scammer. I am now picking up my broken pride and moving on. I emailed the bank and the company in China with the copy of the fabricated invoice so they were aware of the fraud transaction. But most importantly I wanted to warn everyone to do complete background checks on anyone you out meet online. Take your time. Before you meet them in person...and don't have anything to do with someone that keeps making excuses as to why they can't meet you in person after you have been corresponding with them for a reasonable amount of time. Beware if they come on strong romantically too fast and say they are in love and want to marry you within a couple of weeks!! .stay safe!!

Please help I think I may be involved with the same person do you have a picture

We can't post pictures on the blog. Scammers often use pictures of other people without their permission. If you're dealing with a scammer, seeing a picture won't tell you who the person really is.

If you think you might be talking to a scammer, look for warning signs like this:

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

How can you talk to someone posting information as to a scammer here? Sometimes information fits very much one's one experience and it could be beneficial to talk about it to see if information can be interchanged in order to determine what to do and if to file a complaint with the FTC. How can you privately or publicly can give an fb address or email or something to be contacted to discuss the information? Is there a way to do that?

If you have doubts about a person you're talking to, our blog posts and articles explain how to spot online dating scams.

If you think you're talking to a scammer, please report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.

There's a link to the commenting policy for this blog just above the box where you would type a comment. The commenting policy explains what we won't post. For example, we won't post personal information like addresses.

I think I am dealing with a scammer. I found another person who looked just like him who is a romance scammer. The scammer used this guy's email address except used yahoo instead of gmail. The guy I met claims he has never had a yahoo account. I am trying t find out the name of his company in Illinois. He is supposedly a construction engineer and owns his own business, but I cannot find him registered with the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers.

the want that's doing the same thing we met in instagram all this poetry and his engineer old rig. starts of with a sculpted naked picture. The profile pic's is not the same has other picture. He's a widow he's engineer he's in India he has a certificate in Germany $2,000 then he turns around and ask me to trust him
FRED WALKER.

Does the name "Ben Clifford" an engineer for Mercedes Benz sound familiar? Does he have a Facebook or tinder he just joined in March 2017? Is he saying he is in love with you and wants to marry you but he's traveling a lot? My friend is going through this and I'm trying to find answers for her...

"Engineer Benjamin Clifford" comes on hot and heavy doesn't he? Saying he is in love, wants to get married, have children, and has only been talking for a few weeks. He sounds German or something foreign. He's been saying he will be in town and meet in person but something always comes up. Recently, it's been that his father is dying at the hospital out of state. When he Skypes you can never see him, something is always technically wrong. He sends tons of pictures of his family and friends but none of his family or friends are on his facebook page (he only has single women as friends). He insists he's not a scammer, that he is wealthy with many cars, etc. He has even tried to send his own credit card to use to prove that he has money and to trust him... I don't know what kind of scam this falls under but IT IS A SCAM! Beware. These people can lead you on for weeks, months, or years. It's their job and they are good at it.

Can you post more about your story? My mom is currently being scammed but still needs convincing. Thomas Burke is her scammer who has been detained in Turkey.

Hi Bridget,

Thank you for this site. I gather I should file a formal report with the ftc at this point but it sounds like it may fall on deaf ears. I Had no idea this was so very real or pervasive.

My "guy" is called Tyson Blanchard or, Alan Mueller or a combo of the above. He is supposedly a Clinical Pathologist living in Carson City Nevada but aboutto move tohis gazillion dollar home in San Ramon California. He is currently in Nigeria (ring a bell?) and has bought me a gorgeous $20K engagement ring which was supposed to be on my finger last Sat. nite. But nooooo...he was in a "terrible car accident" and the "doctor"..Dr. Ajiya (or something similar) will "kick him out of the hospital". Miraculously his hotel bill has been paid even tho he never checked out. His passport and $12,700 and credit card (singular) is "missing" from the accident but somehow he managed to get his laptop. Swear to God I have an IQ over 100 but these guys are good..not good enough to get my $$ tho. Still the heart hurts..damn these guys are good..be careful and beware folks!

I think i been talking to the same guy lives in reading met him on match .com
worked on oil rigs and jobs in south africa how do u check there photo please

do you have apicture or a name

i think the man who is contacting me is the same person, do you have a pic or can i send you one?

Yes.Dont know how to attach.

My guys name was Steve G. Murray. Same scenerio but different names. Wow. We need to catch this piece of scum. I met him on ChristianCafe.com and they told me that you can't use fake pictures on their site they filter everyone. Yeah right!

hI,

i HOPE YOU CAN HELP ME WITH THIS, I READ WHAT HAD HAPPENED WITH THE SCAMMER, I TO PUT A STOP TO SOMEONE, THAT I HAD NOT MET YET BUT SPOKE TO QUITE A LOT,

TOLD ME HE WAS WORKING IN GERMANY, BUT FROM SANTA MONICA, I TOLD HIM STRAIGHT AWAY YOU ARE FROM AFRICA... HE GOT OFFENDED. SO HE HAS A FB, I AM NOT ON IT, HE HAS ODD FRIENDS, HIS LINKEDIN HAS ONLY 4 PEOPLE BUT HAS HAD HIS COMPANY FOR A WHILE..ODD..

I GOT QITE A FEW PICTURES, AND HE SENT ME A VIDEO OF HIMSELF... BUT I LOOKED UP HIS NUMBER AND THERE HAS BEEN COMPLAINTS. HOW DO I FIND THE REAL PERSON TO LET THEM KNOW? HOW DID YOU DO THE REVERSE LOOK UP FOR PHOTOS? THANK YOU.

Post his phone number in Google for others to know he is a scammer.

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