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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

Thanks for your reply, I still can get my son to stop falling for her bs stories...maybe seeing that this is happening to someone else in their words might help. He totally believes everything this person says....even "as soon as I get there I'll give you your money back....

You could also share this FBI article that describes how romance scammers work.

The FBI says the scam usually starts when you’re contacted online by someone who appears interested in you. The person might have a profile you can read or a email a picture to you. They might chat back and forth for weeks, even months, to build a connection. They might send small gifts. But eventually, your new “friend” is going to ask you for money.

The FBI warns people that you could get caught up in money laundering if you cash phony checks and sending the money overseas, or re-ship stolen merchandise the 'friend' sends to you.

Hi!My name is L., I have almost the same experience:on the 11 of April, 2016 I "met" a man, Major A.M., from one camp base in Iraq who in 3 weeks proposed me, but asked for a request of early retirement because the situation became dangerous in their camp base. I was asked to pay 2,700 dollars for his form of that "early retirement"...of course, my heart is broken now but I saved my money. Thanks to my friends, they helped me to "recognise" the scammer.

I met a man wanting the same amount of money. I am sure it is a scam!

I met a guy name David Robertson I need to know if he's a soldier or not cause he says he loves me and miss me and his son so can I please get some help here please soon he said he be home before Septembe

The US Army has warned people about scammers. Scammers pretend to be soldiers and tell all kinds of stories about themselves to get people to send money. Sometimes they say they have children who need money.

Don't send money to someone you never met.

The US Army says:

  • If you never talk to the person on the phone, or he says he can't send letters or get letters, it could be a scam. Even when soldiers are outside the US, they have an APO or FPO mailing address.
  • Military members have an email address that end in ".mil." If the person you're talking to won't send you even one email from an address that ends in ".mil," he probably is not in the military. The ".mil" will be the last part of the address with nothing after it.
  • If he says the military won't let him use his bank accounts or credit cards, it's a lie.

This guy said he's in the marines Corp; currently deployed in Africa. Fell in loved after a week with me. All the sweet talk a girl would want. Then he said yes homesick and he's not able to get leave beacuse his funds aren't being transferred. So, on the side I was searching and came across this..thanks to my gut dealing. So I asked for his AOk email. Which he didn't provide. He became irritated and played the victim card. His name is Emilio Pena. He said he has a 5 yr old daughter back in Cali and his girlfriend died two years ago in a car accident. I fell for it. I met him in tinder. Please listen to your get feeling. And ask them for proof and they shouldnt be upset!

This is the same dude I'm dealing with right this very moment! Same sanme same story!!!

Look I am former military and military people NEVER I repeat NEVER have to pay to leave or any of the other BS these con guys are trying to pull. The military get's them there and get's them home... They issue their gear etc. Don't fall for these loser guys whining stories.

This is happening right now to me. I met this person online claiming that he is in Military station in Kabul Afghanistan he goes under the name of Dave Soto and told me he has a daughter and widowed.

Long story short we started chatting and and get into relationship Im so fallen for him. Now his asking for money because he said his daughter has broken her legs while she was in the park with friends. In the very moments I stand with what I believe is right I told him I will not send any money to him and now he is not replying back on my messages so its clear now that it was a SCAM! Ladies please be guarded your heart and money.

My friend started getting emails from a person on facebook who talked her into setting up a gmail account (it's more private he claimed). A Sports Doctor that went to college in Austin,Tx named Robinson Carter. He gave her a clinic that he claimed he worked at, we called them and they never heard of him. He sends all kinds of pictures none of which look the same to me. Works for UN, widowed wife killed in car wreck and one child named Ella sister/nanny/lives in UK can't keep story straight. Wants to get married, claims has all kinds of money. Just now coming up with after several weeks trying to get her to write or call the UN to get him out so they can marry! Yet never gives her that information, still won't come forward where he is located. My friend has tried to trick him up so many times and has, but he starts copying stuff out of books, and sending love songs instead. He has all night to do that..but can't write or talk on the phone....

Here is the kicker...he can't talk on the phone-write or receive letters-or tell her exactly where he is, no gmail address on any gmails. We are thinking the hammer is coming down today, suddenly UN is all but keeping captive and he doesn't want her asking any questions...Does anyone know this person????

Hi, i think i might be encountering the same problem... This Dr Ive met on a dating site who allegedly says he is working under the UN in Syria. His wife died in a car accident and has one son. He originate apparently from Texas. He is a medical dr who assist the US military soldiers in Afghanistan. Apparently this one has a lot of money or so it seems and he wants to settle/marry. He WhatsApp me...His profile picture looks different than the one on the dating site. And he talks a lot of the UN...

Thank you for the information. I have been talking with someone for over a year and a half. He claims he is in the Army but there is a lot of red flags. I call him out on them. What makes it confusing we rarely email when we have it reads at the bottom of his message military computer. What throws me off we have spoken on the phone a few times as I really don't like talking on the phone to my surprise has a German accent. He has asked me for money I have sent him here and there. When I choose not to no big issues he will try again for his phone. Like I said he can get it disconnected. I don't look for him and he looks for me. I have googled his picture and nothing comes up. How do I know if he is real?

Members of the US military have email addresses that end in ".mil." If the person you're talking to won't send you even one email from an address that ends in ".mil," he probably is not in the military.

The ".mil" will be the last part of his email address with nothing after it. The ".mil" is in his actual email address, not something written at the bottom of the screen, or included in the signature or added as part of the message.

It's wise to pay attention to red flags. If you meet someone online, you really don't know who they are, and if he asks you for money, it's probably a scam.

Please Do you know if this is true for the British Army about their e-mail addresses the one I have is a g mail account.Has nothing extra at the end.

My cousin was told, if you choose to take a 30 day leave, you then are responsible to pay for that. This girl claims to be MB18 Special Forces Weapons Sgt. Said she needed help with airfare money because they do not cover airfare for 30 day leaves.

What is the soldier's name? I have a soldier telling me the same thing

I have a guy saying similar stuff. His name is Reynolds Wood. He is supposedly in Kabul Afghanistan. Wanted me to send underwear, game controls for ps4 and Fifa Soccer, tank tops and some other items for his birthday. When asked his address it was to Ghana to courier because no one can come in or out of base except the courier.

This is too funny, the guy that sent a friend request on facebook also wanted , perfume ( which I thought was odd a guy asking for perfume not cologne}, then he wanted boxer panties { which even sent off bigger flags}, then he wanted 2 iphones. He also wanted $1200 to give to the orphanage in Kabul as he has no access to his bank accounts in Newark, Ohio. If I got these things to him, his general would let him out of the service quicker so he could see me....LOL then once he gave me the address to mail to in Ghana....I questioned him on it. He said it was his agent for his late fathers business. I asked what kind of business and he said gold and diamonds. The name that he used was Sargent Thomson Snow. Be aware !!

these scammers are so sick is a bloody shame

Do NOT SEND any money. I am a real US Army Wife. There are US Soldiers in Nigeria, Chad etc..... But they do not need money to come home, for a phone card etc...... They are too damn busy to be chatting online. They are not allowed to use Yahoo, Google chat.

Please please don't give him $$$.

You want to know if they are real ask where they live in US. What the time zone is there? What base they are stationed from? Watch the spelling. US military troops can write and speak English.
Do not ask them as many sites will say for their military Email address. That is strictly classified. I can't email my husband on it, it is monitored 24/7.

Ask them their favourite basketball team? Something they should know based on living in the US.

NO troop is ever going to reveal he is Sp OPS. So if he does he is fake. They are not allowed to reveal their location. Classified.

There are real troops on dating sites but you will know as they speak proper English, will reveal almost nothing about their job and will not be chatting with you all the time. Go on the US Army website and educate yourselves. Don't bother calling the Redcross or Military to confirm if he exists. That is classified. They will never ever show you their military ID Badge or any ID. Classified.

So if they are real they will tell you nothing about their mission. FYI......, US Military Missions never have stupid African names for their mission or base and a real soldier will never ever reveal that. The less they tell you the more chances that they are real.

Trust me I am married to one in Sp Ops and a Commander. They are very very secretive and do not reveal what unit, brigade, squadron they belong to. They can be court marshalled and thrown in jail.

Hi I been talking to a guy who says he's in the military he wants me to send him a care package yet hasn't asked me for money I'm kind of worried that he's not real I'm starting to get feelings fo himr so I'm just wondering did the scammers asked for care packages to?

Could you please help me. I have also been talking to a man who friended me on fb back the first of JAN. HE SAID HIS NAME WAS GILLIAM WOODLAND AND THAT HE WAS FROM LONDON' I HAVE 3 PICTURES HE TEXTED TO ME. I HAVE NEVER CONFIRMED A REQUEST FROM FB BEFORE UNLESS THEY WERE SOMEONE I KNEW. I FEEL SO DUMB AND STUPID. HE HAS BEEN BOTHERING ME TO SEND HIM MONEY TO. HE SAID HE HAD TALK A SHIPMENT OF GOOD TO SOUTH AFRICA AND DON'T HAVE THE MONEY FOR THE SEAPORT TAXES. HE HAS BEEN CALLING ME TO AND I KNOW HE IS NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS CAUSE HIS SOUNDS LIKE HE IS FROM AFRICA. THE PHONE NO HE IS CALLING FROM IS NIGARIA. I'M ASKING FOR SOME ADVICE BECAUSE IM VERY AFRAID. ANY ADVISE WOULD BE APPRECIATED. THANK YOU

It is very simple. The guy is a fraud. there is no investment on his part, so you have nothing to lose. Just block him. I had something similar on EH. A woman was 29 (I am late 40s) and she was telling me that she was instantly falling in love with me and that age is just a number. Then she asked me for money for almost the same reasons you listed above. I immediately cut it off because I knew it was a scam. Don't feel bad. It is actually kind of funny on how blatantly clumsy they are in their scams.

Call me 912 xxx xxxx I have been investigating this group for several months. They are from the United States

As stated in the FTC's blog commenting policy, we do not publish personal information, like phone numbers, in blog comments.

I do have on victim to this scam. I met this young man on Facebook tennis age was 41 very good looking very clean-cut we struck conversation and one thing led to another after that I'm sixty years old I like the attention I was getting and unfortunately it was all a scam I didn't know that at first until my daughter made me see the light and understand what I was going to she literally had to put his picture up online you tell me that the person that I've been talking to is a good person PTI asked me if I could send him money for the papers to come home and be with me fortunately I did not send him any money but now I don't know how to get out of the situation too and I need everyone's help please help me in this matter thank you.

Hi.i guess i am a victim too of these scumbags.. i met this guy on FB.. he gave me a name FRANCIS DARREN. we started chatting sin feb 22.. i was skeptical but i continued to talk to him coz he seems so nice and gentle and sweet. an american guy from texas he said but currently in Ghana to claim a " nanny Will" to cut it short.. we chatted and eventually fell for each other even by not seeing each other yet. now , he wanted to marry me and get the nanny will so we could start a life. the problem is he couldnt process the nanny will from Barclays bank coz the bank is askin for money to process it.. so last nite it came to a point where he asked my help.. hahaha voila. i knew it.. when i refused.. he said i broke his heart. and made him sad. . the funny silly thing i did back then was i sent nude pics of me.. but latter part last nite .. he wasnt able to pesuade me to send him cash.. now i blocked him on FB..

Oh mine did you ever see him? Is he a young black guy? I guess he wants to marry everyone he chats with LOL. And of course it all is because he is madly in love with you and needs help. THEY ALWAYS DO. When he said he was sad - and you broke his heart - well he might be the same guy that scammed me - did he ever mention a brother? Where was he going to get married? Did he ever say in Ghana?

Be careful! Search the internet and check to make sure he didn't post your nude pics anywhere.

I did not have any nude pics from when I was there - he did though was low enough to give it to someone else there and then claimed he hadn't at the beginning so he has already done that from the beginning. But all I can expect is someone saying: Oh .. is that my friend.... And if they ask me then I will explain to my friends they know me and they can only see the scammer through his actions. And since you are answering to this how would you suggest I would disseminate this information all over the web and other places? Somebody suggested renting a billboard in each city. That would be expensive though.

i give someone i met from fb he is from turkey ,5000 usd by western union and then he bloc me..what should i do to get my moeny back???

When you send money by wire transfer like Western Union, it is very difficult to get it back.

When you send money by wire transfer, it is like giving cash. After the money is gone, the company cannot get it back. You can report the person to law enforcment in your area, and report him to the wire transfer company.

i sent someone 12,000Euro to assist him and after much communication he was a scamm but his details where real and he later opened up to me that he has already fallen in love with me i doubt and felt heart broken,when i told him i was heart broken cause he dissappointed me,he scammed someone else cause he had already spent all i gave him and he told me he was coming to me,yes he did come to me,the problm was he had no job when he came we paid the money back to the lady he scammed it from she is happy he his from liverpool we are both togehter though he his 53 and am 63

Are they only U.S. or are they a mix of Ghana and US?

How can we talk? It could be beneficial for both if it is the same people / group. Im on fb also -

What group is it that you've been investigating ? If the phone number I call os a real Nigerian number that person is truly n Nigeria .. yes ?

No - when I was in Ghana I observed that getting a phone in Nigeria somehow it keeps on showing from Nigeria even if you are in Ghana - the thing is that those scammers have not only one phone. I used to communicate through whatsapp and he would put my picture on the "DP" - well that is because they have various numbers and I guess there is a way of opening various kinds of accounts with whatsapp also (or something like that) in order to fit a lot of women's pictures and convince them that their pictures are going everywhere because each of them (us) is the only one they are romancing and they want the entire world to know you (and me) are their true love. So coming from Nigeria it could be any place in Africa I imagine that's possible. They have a lot of contact so they can have people still have their accounts in different parts of Africa. They can even make the phone appear from the U.S. The only thing is that sometimes when you call then you will hear that is a service phone of Google or some other internet provider.

I know. they are from United States because their phone no. are from United states and their bank accounts are from here they Use BOA and Wells fargo Bank. I now becauseI was scammed by the person by thousands of the dollars. The person who says you break my heart and I am sad uses the name Wilhelm Gerhard Krumwiede and now he is using the name Frances Daren. Do not give him money.

I met on date site. Good looking man, with 19yr. old son. Wife died when son was 1yrs. old. He said he's 68 , says has no family. Got off site. Email an texting only. Said in Dubai now working. Will be there for a few months. Supposedly has home in Florida. I'm not sure but I think he's in Ohio, working a scam. How do I find out if he's real? I am elderly lady.

When you communicate with someone online, you can't be sure who he really is. You can look for information about the photo he's using, but you don't know if the photo is really him.

One sign of a scam is when the person wants you to get off the dating site and use email or texts to communicate. Many people have written comments about scammers who say they are:

  • Americans working overseas on construction, oil rigs or other large projects
  • widows or widowers, with children who need money, gifts, computers or cell phones
  • coming back to the U.S. soon and want to see you.

Don't send money to someone you 'met' online, and don't do favors like let him use your bank account to transfer money, or open a bank account for him.

There is a new twist with this oil rig romance scam - the oil rig worker is a gay 57 year old widow . . .wife died in a car crash 13 years ago, 17 year old son is in French boarding school in Benin (West Africa) . . .needs money for a French trip to decide his final grade . .. father, son and guardian all correspond via email only- haven't sent any money yet - would like to scam the scammers. But gosh, the dad can write lovely emails on those lonely days out in the Irish Sea . ..my police officer brother ran his CA driver license - not legitimate of course. I'll keep leading him on until we tires of not getting money sent to his son.

I think I have been communicating with the same guy. Says he's 68 and from match. Wants to communicate by email. Claims he's working in Dubai and will be back to Florida in a few weeks. He writes me love letters about us being a couple when he returns. Claims he lost his wife in a car accident and his son is permanently injured and living in a medical facility in Ca. He goes by the name of Robert Derrickson.
Just waiting for him to ask me for money. I researched him and couldn't find anything.

I sure would like to no more about this one they are a big ring of them in the states and Nigeria and Ghana I sure wouldn't mind seeing pictures if available.

Your story is exact as mine...he's from London and he went to nigeria to work, needed money due to goods at seaport.we been talking since aug.2015 I sent him up to 4000 and recently I was sent a check for 1,780. I cashed it and western union contacted me to get money back that I was check scammed I put money back in bank and all turned out ok thank god. we still talk and tonight he ask for 1000. To help him renew travel papers to come be wth me

Sounds EXACTLY like the guy I met online. He was "short on Goods Customs" in Lagos Nigeria. He went by name of Charles?? Just curious. He also asked for various other amounts because his son who was only five years old whose name was Dave supposedly was in the hospital. When I Googled the name and nothing came up anywhere which right there told me scam and he just recently broke up with me February 28,2016 because I wouldn't send him money or give him my bank account information. We met end of Aug 2016.

What phone number does he use ?

I would love to see the pictures of this man. I believe I may have the same thing going on for a shipment but it seemed so real it's freaking me out. His story really checks out! If it's easier to email the pictures to me oh good lord please don't think this is a scam... My email address is:

I am literally sitting outside of the store about to do a MoneyGram second-guessing myself..

We don't publish personal information like emails.

If someone you don't know contacts you out of the blue, wants to be your friend and then wants your money, there's a good chance he's a scammer. If you send money, you probably won't get it back.

Bridget? Why was pogi wowo allowed to post a phone number? When your primary comment is that we don't post personal information on this site? You, do not know if that phone number belongs to someone else, who has nothing to do with this site. Was that just a glitch??

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