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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

yes he is a scammer you need to stop communicating with him if you keep talking all he is going to do is say the things you want to hear i ran in to a few scammers i imaged searched there pics and found out the were stolen pics so i stopped talking to them i advise you if you want to meet your soul mate then check in your area were you live that way you can go on dates in public places and find out what kind of person hes is that is the best way stay away from online dating its full of scammers a lot of people have had there heart broken and money stolen from them so please stay away

I too, have been scammer and it was heartbreaking. The man in the pictures is also a victim. The scammer used the name Josh Cohn, Architect from California. I chatted with form for 8 months until he scammed me out of $1500.00. They laugh at our tears, they a vile, evil creatures.

I am also being scammed i believe he i fell so in love with him weve been talking for 6 months now and all he wants is money now he needs money 2900.00 to be exact os he dont go to jail if u ever encounter a robert cole beware i really believe he is a a scammer he will tell u he is coming home and never show up for 6 months i am wising up not sending him no.more money i was really in love with him

Is his name John Joseph ?

Hello, Scammer use pics and videos to lye people,

I almost was steal money. be strong and protect your hearth.

I'm in the same situation now. My asked to s me money for a laptop and I said no and he was ok. We continued talking for a week and the issue came up I said I'd send him my laptop to borrow for the month until he came home.

I hear form him every day 3 sometimes 3 times a day. Including weekends. Yes the English is a little off I attributed that to him being from Canada prior to the US. I was worri d last night when I didn't hear form him and searched online for over seas incidents and on a military Facebook site I saw a post to bewatre of dating scams.

I checked them out and now I feel foolish. Some of the signs were there but not all of them. When confringed he semester visibly upset and send he'd send the package back to me. And prove he was for real when he returned next month.

I don't want to believe it's a scam cause I care for him, but at the same time Im have no way to prove its a scam. I don't want to potentially ruin a good thing if I'm wrong. I can't intcrept the package either as I've already tried that. Even after talking about my concerns he still says he loves me and wants to come home to me. Someone please help.

If you meet someone online and they ask you to send money or gifts, that's a sign they might be trying to scam you. The US military warns people about scammers who pretend to be soldiers.

Scammers tell many different stories to try and sound legitimate. They might say they're in the military, or travelling for business, or have kids who need financial help. They ask for money, or gifts, and promise they'll see you soon. If you send money or gifts to someone you never met in person, you probably can't get them back.

Let him give you whatever you sent him back. If he is real he will understand why you are concerned. Don't offend him with words, just don't trust. I had someone scammed me for a lot of money - money he promised to pay but I have received nothing back and he wanted more money - since I was sick and had to go for surgery, I did not send him any more money, so he finally doesn't call me anymore because he knows he is not going to get anymore. After one year I finally opened my eyes. I even went and met him. They work in groups, and you could never imagine the things they do to convince you. Don't work against yourself. He asked me for a phone, a laptop, but when I went to meet him I only gave him a tablet. He had already gotten an iPhone 6 plus (over one thousand dollars), and thousands of dollars out of me. Don't do anything without thinking that over, and make sure that if you send him something when reality hits you you will not feel bad about it. If you feel that you can give what you give him to any other person that might be trying to fool you (but if you know about it) then go for it, because when regrets come, then you will say - it's okay because I would do it all over again without expecting anything back. If what you expect is love, then actions (from him) speak louder than words.

Did he return? Did you meet him? Or did he never come home and you are still waiting?

Hey girl, I been there and $122,000.00 later, my retirement is gone all because I thought he was coming to me and he always had some reason that he needed money. Dont trust them. I have several right now telling me the same thing. It a game now with these guys, I tell them all I love them so as not to get to confused, this way if the right one is real then I don't have to lie as I tell them all the same story. They are tricky and like to play with your heart so don't send him anything else. If he is real then he needs to prove it to you by sending you stuff, not the other way around. When I started I didn't have a clue and I only kept in touch with him. Now I have 6 men that I am talking to and my friends take bets on how long it takes for them to ask for something. They all do when there fake and scamming. So tell him to take a hike or just string him along and get you a few more. It hurts, I know, I am still in love with my original scammer and its been going on for a year but I stopped sending money. That all they want and they will promise you the moon. Its a lie. Try talking to others and you will see that there are many of them out there and only a few real ones.

He probably is have sent money to him and does he always come up with excuse won't take a selfie or call u I think dealing with one to she is from Nigeria saying she need Money for blood test and yellow card

Don't talk to him , please , I was scammed , they will take u for everything u got , stop please

Anytime you hear the word NIGERIA or GHANA. Block them and never speak to them. Rule number one, A man is not a man if he has to ask for money. If he does he is a scam artist. Don't be fooled by their smiles and I love you's. If they can get anhything then they will go for everything

Same thing am getting from this girl in Turkish,its all B.S. I Told her F.B.I came around asking questions and she took off right away to turkey,and when I tell her buy phone and then excuses start,and she wants money to help her grandma. But no more she's B.S.ME AND I did cash couple checks,but I told her am not falling for her S##t again?

I know this is old but I just wanted to say something myself. I'm a guy who also fell in love with a scammer. I was involved 2 years and even financially supported her. I've learned over time that there are so many scammers out there preying. If anyone ask for money, never do it unless they prove to you with real evidence in a way that cannot be faked. My lady actually took a picture with part of her face hiding and the display of her passport but it could not be read at all. Just could see it was a passport and thats it. I fell for it but I am hoping others don't and maybe by me saying something might help someone else. I hope you had healing since the scammer caused you so much pain in the heart. I know, been there done that and never again will I fall victim. God Bless!

I understand how you feel. A woman did the same thing to me. I am thinking of starting a support group:

Mel, I am involved in a similar situation...only not have I fallen in love with this man, but have sent him a lot of money, I have seriously been thinking about filing a report to catch him....this is so bad...bottom line I am in love with most likely a scammer.

Sweetheart my name is Cynthia you can contact me at
I know from experience hes a scammer ive been in love with a soldier for a year before i found out the same as you if you have more questions you can email me or

We may edit comments to remove personal information before posting them.

Melanie...get out...you deserve more. Be strong.

His name woukdnt happen to be a robert cole woukd it?

I hope I am not too late. You know he is a scammer. You need to cut all communication with him immediately. To do otherwise is a bad mistake you will regret.

hi melanie
i had a woman recently trying to extort money. i seen through it after a couple of days. had a feeling she was a scammer by bad english. take care denis

Hi Melanie
This is almost 2 years old but as for the weekends I think their little online cafe is closed or they are off doing something else like being with their GF. I sure hope you didn't get scammed from him I got contacted from someone through Facebook who claimed he was in the military but I checked his photos on Google photo reverse site and they came from all different places so I know he wasn't who he said he was and we did contact each other through Yahoo Mail and he claimed he was in love with me and wanted to meet me but he couldn't because he had no money and no phone to contact me. I found it kinda odd because he asked if I could send him 200.00 so he could get a smart phone like I have (Iphone) and I told him sure. We talked more and more all he could talk about is when will he get the money. I told him soon and he asked over and over again. I told him give me time and I'll send him some which I never did, I reported his fake account to Facebook they closed it down. He must had reopened it again because a few months later it was back and running. Military/none Military who do not know you will not just randomly add you to their friends list without knowing you personally.

Well Melaine,you have to take heart I know what it feel like when a woman is in love with a man,you are good hearted woman and that is the reason why you fall for us this and please do not make such a mistake next time.Black and white we are all one blood I am a Nigerian and not a Scammer so there 80% of good people in my country I hate when everybody keep calling Nigeria even when other country is also doing there own side but everything on NIgerian

I recently have been talking to a man who says he is in Syria with the UN. He says he is going back to USA, Manhattan on August 30th. he has told me he has a son and that he is separated from the mother. He says he wants me to join him when he gets back to USA. He did confide in me that his son was going to a school and that he had no way to transfer funds to the headmistress to keep his son there at the school. I said I had no money to send. He did not stop talking to me and has said he loves me. What should I do?

What ever u do don't give him any money report him i too was taken in his voice sounded too young for his age i also did some research on this man's so called job, he started out being a gentleman within a few days he was telling me he loved me and proposed marriage, then came the desperation of needing money and asked me to buy him an iTunes card for one of his machines i cut the relationship off right there

Melanie, I feel U girl. I just got hacked by a Nigerian scammer to. He sent me a face pic and he might bee ur boyfriend. Maybe he cheated on you to. I wouldn't listen to him.

Melanie,
It's been awhile since your comment posted but I just wanted to add obey your thoughts not your heart especially on this. I can relate because some lovely lady (supposedly from the pics) got to my heart online and told me she wanted to be my wife. She asked me for money to pay for her journey to my place which was more then $350.00 for gas and pocket change (a strategy stated above the comment section). It didn't work. So she said I wasn't caring and all that and that was a huge turn off. We stopped talking for awhile and she got in contact with me again asking me for my name and address to send me money to pick up for her at Western Union to send to her (another strategy stated above the comment section) which I almost agreed to because she knew how to pull on my heart strings.
So, I did some more extensive research online and found out she indeed was a scammer by seeing her pretty face on a few pics listing her under a different name on a site dedicated to exposing online scams and scammers. My mind kept telling me this was a scam or more than likely a scam and not be stupid and send money to a person I've never eve met in person or over the phone.
So, my advice is don't follow your heart or emotions, do what you know to be right and act on the truth.

Brian.

PLEASE EVERYONE READING THESE STORIES.. IT JUST HAPPENED TO ME..THE NAME RANDY CHRIS SCOTT STRAUG.. YOUNG WHITE GUY SUPPOSITLY IS FROM SACRAMENTO CALI.. BUT SERVES IN ALLEGEDLY U.S ARMY ON A PEACE MISSION IN NIGERIA. TIL JULY... I STARTED PUTTING MY GUARD UP. TIL I GOT A PICTURE OF HIM PUTTING A CARDBOARD UP WITH I LOVE YOU RENEE.ON IT
. AWWW I THOUGHT..TO SELF.. MAUBE HE IS LEGIT INSPITE OF OTHERS EHO TRIED TO SCAM ME B4.HE SAID THE SAME THAT HIS DAUGHTERS MOM DIED AN MOM IS RAISING HIS DAUGHTER BK HOME AN NEEDED ME TO SEND A AMAZON GIFT CARD.. ATTN: RED FLAG WENT UP & A TURN OFF
. I HATE WHEN A MAN ASK A WOMAN FOR MONEY.HE KNEW I WASNT FALLING FOR IT.. VERY CONSISTENT.WEEKS GO BY AN HE NOW HAD STATED GIS BOYS EIFE FROM AUSTRALIA WILL SEND ME MONEY.. BUTI WAS TO SEND IT TO 3 OTHER PEOPLE .. UMM BUT NOT HIM ..ANOTHER RED FLAG..BUT I STARTED OUT SAYING WELL MAYBE BEIN OVER THERE THATS HOW IT NEEDS TO GET DONE.. BUT CLAIMED AFTER I NOW STARTED ASKING.QUESTIONS. THESE ARE PPL HE WAS HELPING TO COME TO US. FOR OUR WEDDING.. BOI WAS HE GOOD.. BUT I WAS SMARTER.. W.U PUT A HOLD ON 2 OUT OF 3 NAMES HE EANTED ME TO SEND $6,000 IN AL $2,000 A PIECE.. W.U DAVID STATED ONE OF THE NAMES WAS A FRAUD ALREADY.. The girl from Australia that sent it was supposed to be Carol Hale...

I have been talking to a guy who goes by Thomas M Brooks at first he just wanted friendship and within a couple weeks she says he's in love with me , want a to marry me, etc, etc. Supposedly he lives in or is from Dallas Texas says he has one daughter named Cindy who is 21, a son named Alexander who is 17 and a mother who all live with him in his house in Texas. He says he is a marine engineer working in Egypt and for weeks he told me he was coming home on March 20, now he has asked for an iTunes card which I got for 60 bucks, and now it's a new iPhone, with a sum card, he claims the phone he has got dropped and doesn't work well, then he asked for 200dollars , and it went from that to 300, and now 400, and just Las night on the phone he told me he has to pay 150 for his paper work for his vacation leave by the 17th. He's real smooth operator and the way that he went on ask me about my family and my job and my life, and told me about his freelee sharing information about his life and his kids and his parents and his uncles and where he grew up and etcetera etcetera. But now he's asking for more and more and more and when I explained to him that I don't have the money for it he tries to lay a guilt trips on me while he's doing his best to get home and he's doing it for me only because he wants to see me so badly. I have invested my heart in him based on the initial conversations with him over the last few weeks other now he's starting to ask for things money and real expensive phones and it just keeps getting to be more and more and more and when I try to tell him that there needs to be a compromise he just insisted he needs my help. When I asked him why he can't use his own money he tells me that he's on a rig and he has to be helicoptered in and he has no access to get off and no access to his accounts, and then everything comes in on Fridays through a third-party who brings them the things that they need to live on these gas or oil rigs or whatever it seems legitimate I met him on Facebook and his picture seems legitimate but he has very little information on his Facebook page. I have tried doing searches on his name and his Gmail account I have tried doing searches on his actual phone number, and I have even try to do a reverse search on his picture but I have gotten nothing I do notice that when we talk on the phone he is always professing love to me and saying that he wants to marry me wants to be with me he wants to give me kids he wants me to move to Texas with him blah blah blah, although he cannot give me any definite no definite dates, when I asked for pictures he gets defensive and says that he can't use phones around outside around the tankers because it could explode and that I want him to explode. When I ask him for a picture of his bunker where he sleeps he said that he couldn't take pictures with his phone because it wasn't working right. When I asked him if he had any pictures and his kids on his phone so that I could see them he said that he did not have any pictures on his phone because his phone does not have a card whatever that means, when I have asked him to give me his mother's address so that I can write her letters he insisted that he wanted to be there when I met his mother for the first time because it would be more special. I am now becoming very skeptical of him and I do not believe that he is coming home from Egypt I feel like he thinks that he's going to get all these things for me which I have not given him yet and then all the sudden going to cut off complete communication or make up some excuse not to be able to come home and try to keep prodding me for money. I'm frustrated because I cannot find any information anywhere on any of these sites regarding this guy but I do believe that he is a scam artist. LOL like I said my heart is involved now. And part of me wants to believe that he is genuine because most of the things he says seem very genuine so right now I am at a loss as to what to do does anybody here I have any information regarding this guy has he ever contacted you under the name of Thomas M Brooks. Is that is to the name on his profile for Facebook if anybody is curious enough to look to see if he is someone that they have had encounters with I would be curious to know if anyone on here has had encounters with this particular person. Thank you for your time

Get out while you can....

Melanie, u need to keep your head up, he doesn't love u cos if he do he would never say another loving story to another woman.

I am so sorry I to am a victim of scamming mine come from Instagram. The first thing the make fake acct claiming to be military. And In need of internet. By way of iTunes do not get these lol anything I am the daughter of a retired service man and a real us service men do not need help with internet it is provided special missions and spiecal bases do not exist they are scamming you a deployed solider. Do not need for anything unless he is your husband the second thing is if they want you to go to hang out or whats up app they are scammers think about it if they message you on Instagram they can stay on Instagram taking you to another site is because. They can not be traced or monitored and the most important. Is it is a crime for a us service man to ask a civilian for anything monetary no real service. Man is going to risk their career on a 50$itune card.

Yes he a scammer leave him along please they ask you to come there and everything a woman \ man want to hear please leave him along

Gosh I know its been 2015. I hope you got away from him if he was a scammer. I am in a similar situation also Nigerian and have lost a lot of money and want to know if he is a scammer. I love him and I just don't want to believe it. Let me know what happened. Thanks for sharing

hi Melanie, i know exactly what your going through cause i have been scammed by a Nigerian and had he was very clever and played on my feelings and emotions. he got lots of money off me claiming to impersonate someone else. i went for 9 months like that. what made me figure it out was that he never showed up when he said he would, but he also threatened me. sorry that you got scammed. it's not fun i know.

Sorry for your pain...I too just found out it is all fake , went from California to Iowa with a ring to marry them. Be careful and meet someone in person

Youre being scammed. I was scammed for 4 yrs. Pull your feelings and emotions out. Talk with family let them know whats going on and ask them what they think. Theyll tell you youre being lied to. Get out now!

Ladies/Gents: Please, please if u r romanced like u've never been romanced in ur life with flowery love language complete w love songs.. run, I mean as fast as u can. I was finessed like a violin. I am intelligent, trained in psychology but my heart strings were tugging pretty hard. It came to a screeching end when I asked Craig/James when he goofed & signed one of his many sonnets James & I challenged it, if he was going to next ask me for money to get him home from Australia where he was supposedly working, or for taxes .. he got violently angry, said he had been "wasting his time sitting on his ass writing to someone who didn't trust him." The upshot was that I had found him out! He blocked me, in fear. You see, I am clairvoyant & told him so in an earlier convo. Must have scared him too.

Yeah I've had 3 girls in like 2 weeks say they were working for Unicef and that they're managing properties in Nigeria if they need money for their phone for a ticket out of there. But I have gotten girls to give me their address and full name a way to call them and actually talk to them but I keep telling myself that it's a scam that It could never work, then again I know some people who have been very successful if you actually talk to them on the phone and you send things in the mail back and forth that's pretty cool you gotta start off as a pen pal. The reason I'm on here is because there is a Russian that's where she loves me send me a new picture everyday and all I have to do is pay for her passport she can afford her ticket we have spoken on the phone with a few times plenty of email I just don't know if it's possible

Is it a way to get your money back after such actions

Another is Rosemary Cremona , she is active and n Facebook and hangout Her email is itsaroselove

Back in July, I had a friend request of some lady. The profile Pic was just a picture of a boat and words about Jesus. But looked through friends list and couldn't see any mutual friends. So thought I'd accept request to see if I could find out more. Eventually saw a picture of her, and well let's say I was pleased I accepted her, she was quite pretty. But I never got in touch.

Then one day out the blue, just had a 'Hi' so messaged her back about HR later asking how we know each other and said is she from west of England or Midlands. And she didn't reply, just sent another hello. And I vaguely remember, during EU referendum I was posting comments in forums about wanting to leave and think She liked one of the comments. So I asked her if it was through that, and said yes and it's shame we left. I asked why she sent me a request when I'm glad to leave.

But started telling me how she lost both parents, but dad died in Plane crash in Labos, but she now gotta travel there to collect $52 million. But just kept Chatting n having laugh for quite a while.

And then one day asked If I could send £100 to pay for final papers to get this inheritance. Why would you travel so far without money to collect it? And why can't they deduct it off the inheritance. But after I said I couldn't afford to and we've not known each other online long and never met. I don't want to.

And she stopped messaging me. And eventually after asking why she not talking she said what's point being friends if I can't help. So I said, so you befriend me just for money. And said no. But when I said see it from my point of view. She avoids answering. I said if I'd known her in person, I may have her a small amount as tester. And if she did move to uk, I'd like to meet up. But now all of sudden today, she's in a new relationship. How' she manage that with guy in US when she meant to Be in Nigeria. Elizabeth M Cowell is the name

My husband of 44 years is in a Nigerian RomanceScam. I don't know how long it has been going on. I found out 2 days ago because he wanted to mention to me if I see a large amount of money deposited in our acconts it's not ours. It's for a friend in Nigeria in the Peace Corp. He's sending the money by moneygram ($1700). I immediately told him it's a scam. Why would your friend ask to do it. Why not family. He got mad. Yelling at me. I immediately closed the account since it wasn't coming in until yesterday morning. I opened another account. When I got home, I had to tell him. He was screaming and yelling at me. It came out it was for a woman in Nigeria in Uncef who is was in love with. Yesterday, I changed all accounts and put them in my daughrer's and my name. By the advise of the banker, we left one open which is in both our names with $5 in the acct. I called and made a compliant with the FTC, called PayPay, and the police in our township to put a report in. This is money laundering and fraud. It's illegal money coming out of Nigeria to Brazil. My husband doesn't think this is a scam. He is so "in love", he trust it is her. My daughters are doing an intervention tonight at our home. I won't be here. I'll watching my grandchildren. If this doesn't work, then the police and admitted to a hospital. If he doesn't believe the police. I also called the FBI. They would talk to him but I want my girls to start the first step. Any advice???? PLEASE! I'm willing to work to help him back to normal even if it is counseling.

Someone I know has been in contact with a nurse working for UNICEF too. Asked him to open a new checking account for money to be deposited for her then use moneygram to send back to her. Do you know if this money $1700 of her money will end up making my friend paying back to PayPal moneygram or bank?

If someone puts money into your bank account, and you withdraw the money and send it, and the bank finds out the deposit is no good, you must repay the bank. You are responsible for your account.

If someone tricks you, and says he put money in your account, and you take money out and send it, you will lose money. The bank expects you to repay the money you took out.

You take a big risk when you use your bank account, or open a new bank account, to help someone you met online.

my dad has been scammed with the same story but her name is joan carter.......I have given him all the proof of it being a fraud including stolen SSN and reported emails names and he still talks to her...she must of promised him the moon and I cant break that pull

Hello I have this girl I met maria and she has a friend Helen both sre supposedly nuses, extremely convincing Maria is. Helen though, when I Said something about her being a scam

A girl named caroline adam, jane jones tried to scam me as well from a dating site called skout and flurv. They both confessed their love quickly and told me they work for a company called UNICEF as well after doing research after both asked me for money I found out both were tryna scam me please be careful and look for redflags like...no fb or ig minimal friends on social media can't video chat voice dont match the picture and report them on the ftc website i am hurt i was scammed but maybe my story can help others.

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