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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 had the same kind of scammer talking to me. We even talked on the phone. And let me tell you, his voice could melt icebergs. Fortunately I didn't fall for it, although I came close. You know, I have met more scammers wanting money for some reason or other than I have met legitimate men. It's really sad but I think I have heard them all now. I'm very discouraged.

I am nearing 10 total that have tried scamming me. But, after losing my only child. Then my mother, husband leaving me as if I were some sort of freak...I found myself extremely lonely and turned to the computer for something exiting. The family that I was actually blood kin to - left me in a time of need unlike any Mother should ever have to endure. Let alone aimlessly looking for someone to share an ordinary but good life with someone that could be GENUINE for once. Anyhow, I was not in my right mind to say the least, not an excuse - unfortunately, a very hard fact!

I sent so much money that Money Gram and Western Union have redflagged me as an extremely high risk. Thank you for sharing here and letting this all too horrible crime that is going on and on. And yet nothing or nobody really care enough to help those of us like myself seek and fine real answers.

The same thing happened to me. At time when felt lonely, I fell for the guy who only called me love, honey, darling and my beloved wife as he never called me by my personal name. The most annoying of all is I fell for him who contacted through Skype. He was Skyping me every day twice a day for several hours. Made me convinced that I am his wife and he is my husband. The second day I started talking to me he sent his son's photo. As I had a daughter who was 1 years younger than his son. He told me to email him, was very determined that he would be happy to hear from me. I stared to send considerable amount of money by Western Union and Money Gram for emergency medical for his son and then for his doment ATM card. I thought that would be the end but as he had my phone he/someone called and said that they need more money gave me their names and text me the details through to me. That's when I realised the person I spoke to sounded like the same person with his writing style. Alarm bells started ringing and I blocked and reported him on Skype and blocked the phone calls as well. However like the lady said there is not a lot of websites where you can search for email address and nobody to help. I felt so vulnerable even though I search on Internet there are no way to find whether someone is real or not. I strongly feel that there should be helpline or something of that sort to help people. Even people who are educated can fall victims because of the romance and love they bistore on their victims. As love can be blind. Another important thing ladies be aware they would even sound like genuine people and would assurance and saying they are Godly and quoting from the bible to convince you that they are religious.

My scammer operates under three names, so far. Jeremy Gulliver,(FB) Garrett Davidson (LinkedIn)and Shawn Thomas Lyons (FB). Scenario and tricks very similar. I hope you will get out of this hell. Be brave.

Michael Garrett ? US military ?

rso how do you feel now... and where does that scammer says he is from

This same scam has happened to my mother. They cleaned out her account asking for continuous wire transfers their goal is to leave their victims penniless.
As a result my mom has been in the hospital for 2 weeks she's had a stroke and can't walk I fear to tell her she will probably never see her money again and I kept warning her that these people are scammers and she still sent him or them money without telling me what was happening I believe she has dementia, but these cons continue to call her home their has to be someone that can help stop these loser's.. This is very sad and the victims are left with no place to turn.

I was talking to someone by the name of Jerry Goldberg his email was jerrygoldberg he wanted me to get a paypal I told him I didn't feel comfortable doing that and now we haven't spoken for 3 days yah he a scamer. I did speak on the phone and could barley understand him sounded like an Africa with a English accent.

Watch out for Nigerian scams on POF dating site. I have had 3 different men who claim to be in US military overseas and asking for money to get by or help their mom or need a new phone. They all 3 had Mike as their first name, had kids and their pictures showed Caucasian males about 30-40 yrs old. They always ask for small amounts of money so be careful....small amounts of money add up. And they always want it sent Western Union. Names they used are Mike Bolar, Michael Cotton, Michael Barkley. They always call you baby or honey. Mike Bolar said he would be back in 2 weeks...then a month...then another couple of weeks. Asked if I could wire his mom some money and when I said no, but I'll take it to her, he got mad and accused me of not trusting him and questioning his integrity. He kept texting me for over 2 months after I quit talking to him and I never answered the texts. If they claim to be in the military, you can call that branch of the service and have them looked up or if you have a friend in the same branch of service like I did, you can have them looked up. I told Mike Bolar he didn't exist in the Marine database and he flipped out on me stating I was going to get him killed because he was deep under cover. If you think someone is fake, tell them you called their company to verify their employment. That should make them move on if their scamming you. Phone numbers I have for these idiots are 850-390-4762 in Florida, 210-802-7592 in Austin, Tx and 817-405-2802 in Texas.

These are useful details to put in a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give goes into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go in the database.

There was a online scammer usingthe name Jim Oliver claiming he was in Afghanistan and his wife and kids died in a fire. Never asked for money and had too many compliments for someone he didn't know. I'm not stupid, I knew ire was weird from the beginning and it was only a friend request, I am with someone andwasn't looking for amother partner but I blocked him front my f.b. Page

just had one that goes by David Martinez- sent me a few picks - said he was in training but was about to be deployed. He said that the army had frozen all his accounts and he had no access to money and need me to send him some so he would talk and text me on deployment - then I had him email me to my government email. ( I am a government employee) it can from a .usacom account - and in came in from a none dod- source - when I confronted him on this he got extremely I mad - said he was going to post our conversations for the world to see on face book - he just turned very rude. SAME MO though tells you he loves you with in a few days always calling you baby. my love sending you sweet poems - all via text. We talked on the phone a few times - he said he was Hispanic but he accent was not that of an Hispanic person I have ever interacted with. He also keep saying that his commander would do this for him and do that for him. But he never gave his rank nor his commanders. PLEASE BEWARE!!!! This is the 3rd person I have had approach me - if your gut tells you that something is off listen to it.

I just got done talking to a so call soldier that was texting me. Everything seemed ok and then all of a sudden he wanted me to open a bank account to send me money to send to his son. I refused. I felt in my Spirit this was a red flag. Now I haven't heard from him for a few days. Now,another person said he is Martinez Michaels' friend and that Martinez is in the guard house because he got caught messaging me. Now this Brock David Patrick wants me to send money to get Martinez out. I watch for all the red flags that will end up showing after a little while.

I met him on POF since Thanksgiving and have been talking/emailing to him. We still talk/write but has not asked me for $$ yet. The whole emails/phone trail sounded fishy to me and you just have confirmed it. He has a french accent, says he is 68 but sounds a lot younger. He is now in Malaysia according to him with his son. I will block him immediately.

It is a scam. I was contacted by the same person. He asked me for $6000.

Have been talking to the same guy on POF. He has a French accent but sounds a lot younger than 68 years he claims to be. His on-line name is Dasher0347 and has a Sumner, WA phone number but lives in Vancouver, WA if you can believe anything he says. He loves you fairly quickly and will send songs via email without meeting in person. Has not directly asked me for money but hinted at it.

He goes by the name David Martinez as willysjeepgirl said in this blog. He now has asked for money from me and I will block him from contact. He is listed on POF as Dasher0347

He goes by the name of William Henry we chatted for 3 months he ask for airtime which I send him and he wanted an IPhone and some money for his daughter to send via Weston Union never heard of this before, Beauty's birthdhay, divorced over 5 years ago, independent contractor, but I never send him the phone or money. He try to contact me but I never answer his emails or messages. He also love me within a few days and called me baby, honey and sweety.

I've recently had Henry William. The babe, honey, sweety sounds right. American accent. No siblings, no family. This one claims to be in the military, intelligence for past 10 years. Sounded very much like the 'True lies' film. Played along, but alarm bells ring. He went form Afghan, to Syria, then in both places he managed to get his hands on gold, which he needed help with getting out of the country. Asked for money for about a month, to which I kept saying no. Eventually, I got fed of playing. I've left him in Ghana.
I now have 2 others, and on reading through these messages, the stories are among them. Malaysia for gems and antique items, William Erikson - from Denmark, his girlfriend got pregnant by his best friend, so had to leave Denmark and came to the UK, I've left him in Kuala Lumpar and the 3rd is an architect, waiting for confirmation of a project he has contracted in Kuala Lumpar. Goodness knows about this one. Tom Martinez
I think they've all just realised, they have been talking to the same person.
I have photographs of all 3 and email addresses. How do I check them out and do a reverse photo check and email address check?

there was this one man i was talking to through messenger met from the pof site and we talked even did video cam ,. well after two mths of talking he put up the cam so did i and he said i just want you to know he truth about me , that is not me who seen then the real one cam on a Nigerian said he still wanted me lol oh yes he did ask for money . i got smart before i did any thing i told him will no talk to him till he put up his real name and id on the meagerness so he did then i was able to report him and block both of his sites . seem that is all i am getting is scammers

You said this man was from Nigeria - I had the same thing happened and he also said the real name and we skyped but he was from Ghana - was it a young guy? Were you communicating with him during November 24 through December 7? I was in Ghana then and I think he must have been with someone there or probably very busy scamming some others. Name starts with E?

Hi Becca, I'm currently chatting to a guy by the name of Woollsey robert timothy currently deployed in afghanistan. He seems sweet and all. Just today he expressed how much he would love to hear my voice but can't because of them only allowed to use the computer and his on hang out. So I asked him to do a video call he claims they can't they must register me as a family member. He says I can do that by paying 250 usd and its refundable after 3 days. I told him I don't have that amount of cash on hand and he was very persistent. I won't give any man money period!!!
I googled him and don't find him he sent me a lot of pics but I'm very doubtful. U said u have connections in the service can u find out if this guy exist pls. I'm not in the States so it will be costly for me to call and fish out...many thanx for sharing your story

The US government does not charge our service men for making phone calls. He is a scammer. Dump him now

I've been taking to a Mike J. Ayers say he us 42 divorce, 3 children & has sent me pictures. Caucasian blue eyes Sandy blonde hair. Pictures from his younger years & now I fell for the sweet talk & I'm out $500.. Silly me will never do that again.. a friend of mines son is in the army she said they don't get money sent through Western Union..

I can just SEE that on the news on Spam Report, being acted out dramatically. I can just SEE Adam Schrager & co. ripping apart that thing you got. I know this is a pretty serious website, but, hey, if we make fun of the scammers, people might realize how ridiculous they are. And, yes, scammers are ridiculous, so, let's ridicule them! Why not?

Hello I'm In a milatary relationship myself .we did fall deeply in love .n its been going in since Oct 2015 I want to believe that he's a widow .I love this man ..we chat for hours everyday n yes he doesn't say my name either. When he writes me I recently found out something n just want the truth from him now.I'm giving him a chance here to tell me the truth ..yes it will hurt me and if i do find out hes married i will track down his wife n i will involve everyone at the milatary base i will involve the milatary police .n go there my self with my receipts n i will get my money back .if i get to get a lawyer ..

Hire a private detective and chalk it up to learning a hard lesson.

I also met someone on messenger in August . His name is Nela Edmir professes to be French . Tells me he is an oil mandate who lived in Texas , and is now working in Nigeria but ran out of money and because he claims he's an independent contractor the company he claims he is providing services for is BP oil. He hAs forwarded documents that look fake in some small ways and many pictures of himself . One picture of his son that just doesn't seem right. He can be so sweet honey , baby , wife , does occasionally call me by my real name . I have searched and searched but can find no record of anyone by that name . He still contacts me by phone . There is a small part of me that still believes in him . I have had a number of traumatic experiences this year that have made me vulnerable . I have seen hints of a very bad temper getting very angry if I accuse him of anything corrupt . I feel like there needs to be some time of policing of this and support for those trying to escape their grip .

Hi Karen, I'm speaking to a man with a very similar story, but hasn't asked for money yet. He calls himself George Woodworth. He says he's an oil mandate from Texas and is currently in Nigeria on business. Supposedly after winning a contract to pump and transport 4 million barrels of oil back to the US. I've spoken with him on the phone once, very briefly. I so want this to be true, but after several other men trying to scam me from Match, I'm very concerned. I am beginning to have feelings for this man. He sent me flowers a few weeks after I met him, and was 'in love' pretty quickly. I think I know in my gut he is a scammer. That's why I have been doing some research. Since your story is so similar, I'm thinking I uncovered a rat. :-( If you see this let's talk somehow and compare notes. -Amy

Amy , does he send you lots of pictures. I wish I could forward one . Does he call you and when he is ready to hang up he says kiss kiss with an accent . Always asks How are you honey? I f you want I will give you my fb name or you can call me. It hurts

Karen, I think we may have connected with the same person. Did he request you on Facebook and then message you with pics,songs, call you honey, please contact me if you would like talk, I will send you my Facebook page. So you can message me.

does he tell you to rest your head on his chest before he done chatting?

I think am chatting to the same guy he has said the exact same thing to me and he has a strong African accent sounds young has asked for money for a daughter goes by the name J h Gillespie please let me no if you can

Yes it sounds the same and is so hurtful to know he is such a sweet liar . Yes I would love to talk , what name does he go by?

Karen, Amy, Nisey8284, I think I might be dealing with the same guy also, or their may be a group of them from what I am understanding.. It's very sad that these kind of guys play with so many people's emotions and don't even care or bat an eye..! Pm me on Facebook(xxxx). I would love to compare notes and several pics too!!

We don't post personal information on the blog.

I cannot understand why I have become so attached to someone I have never met . I know he lies about his son because I caught him at it . His son was actually a Chinese boy who was abuse d and there was a story written about him and his situation online . I would love to talk with you . Email me At

this maybe ledet or ledat I was also be friended by him on facebook fairly nice looking man black and white beard friendly smile always end calls with a kiss kiss and hello honey or hello babe with an accent im delores white on facebook I am ok he did not get one dime from me he thought he was he would text me all night and tell me how much he loved me I believe some of these men have feelings for some of these women you will not meet them or have a real relationship with them because there goal is to take your money if they get to deep they may fall heard for some of us women who have been scame should try to foam a pack with eachother exchange pictures of these people on facebook or were ever you mate them put these pictures on facebook and other sites to root this evil out in the open im game any body wants this facebook delores white don't expect web sites to do this its not there responibilty its ours to expose these rats common

The oil story sounds familiar, only Tullow Oil in Kenya. He sent pictures and has a very shallow FB presence, He says his name is Thomas Klose. I googled, reversed Searched no digital way to authenticate.

I have been contacted by Thomas Klose. He has told me that he works in Kenya. He mentioned an association with Tullow Oil in Nairobi, Kenya. He sent me pictures. He is a black man. He has a very shallow FB presence. He has no FB Friends on either of his FB Profiles. He actually has 2 Facebook Accounts. Beware! He is a scammer. He will ask you to send him money. He will try to send you money. Do not accept any money from him. Again, beware! It is a scam! If you allow him to send money to your account, you are unknowingly participating in a serious crime.

Could be return of Thomas Klose who claims to be geophysicist, who works on team to locate oil (East Africa) currently working in Kenya. He claims to have degree from Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg South Africa, where he Said he grew up. His mother black American (deceased) & German father. His pictures show tall (6’3”), very muscular, very handsome, golden brown skin, and dark brown eyes, bald head, and black goatee-style beard. He has safari pictures from Kenya and uses dating site, “Black People Meet” with name ‘BraveTom.’ His wife was killed in a fire that his mother (Alzheimer’s) accidentally started. He claims to live in NJ. Anyone seen/heard this story or similar one?

Well there is a woman on twitter that is call Kimberly Worth she said she is christian and believes in God and all that...She is a Scammer...she said that she love me and I'm the only man for her...she said that I am the love of her life she has ask me for money and i did send her some... to be exactly twice...I found out she was talking with other man on twitter and she told me that her account was hack because she didn't text those guys and the cell number she gave me it is a hangouts phone number...what I did was that I use hangouts to get a phone number from there and i text her with the new number i get from there and she replay and in the same moment I was texting her on my regular cell phone and That's where I Find out she was lying...so be carefull with this woman "Kimberly Worth from Anahuac Texas she has and account on twitter

Ive been talking to her too. She is very convincing. I sent money for a plane ticket in January and was told she was in the hospital and needed 1300 for treatment. I refused but she kept talking. I gave her another 750 last week and she claimed her neighbor payed to get her treatment and she couldn't leave because the neighbor took her ID. First time she had me moneygram money to Shirley Desmoreaux of Anahuac TX and this time Jacob Mulkey of Melissa TX

You can help law enforcement by reporting this. File a complaint with the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

You can also report it to the wire transfer companies that you used to send money to Texas.

Someone- I was scammed by someone from UK that travelled to Malaysia and sent the money thru Wells Fargo with the money changer account. Can I report this incident to the bank as well?

You can report a scam to the wire transfer company you used to send the money. If someone took money from your bank account, you can report that to your bank.

How about a Retired Major General from Nato Named Marco Bertolini. Anyone heard of him?

Yep, he tried to friend me on facebook but I declined. I caution people accepting friendships on facebook from complete strangers & then get caught up in an online romance. They are strangers not friends. Why would a Major send a friend request to a stranger?? It's easy to check them out. I'm reading all the comments on this sight and am feeling the pain of so many Linley people caught up in scams. Please never send a stranger money....

Be careful with a 61-ish old guy named Ricky Patricio. He claims he’s from Colorado Springs but sends email with IP address in California. Claims to be a consultant for an oil company. From Panama City. Calls you honey and later calls that he’s in distress and needs money. If you don’t give him the he money he will block you. Voice sounds like an African guy.

My sister in law is currently talking to a General John Michells based in Afghanistan,has not asked for money yet,but will bashing my head against a brick wall telling her hes a scammer,dont knoew what to do.

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