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Online love asking for money? It’s a scam.

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While plenty of successful relationships begin online, scammers also use online dating sites, apps, and chat rooms to trick you into sending them money. These imposters create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money in the name of love. Some even make wedding plans before disappearing with the money. It’s a big problem: reports to the FBI about online romance scams tripled between 2012 and 2016, and imposter scams were among the top reports to the Federal Trade Commission for both the general population and the military community.

These scams can take a military angle with imposters stealing servicemembers’ photos to create phony profiles. They might claim to be servicemembers who can’t get into their accounts overseas or who need money fast. The first sign of a scam is an online love interest who asks for money. But the Army’s Criminal Investigative Service (CIS) says that the military doesn’t charge servicemembers to go on leave, get married, communicate with their family, go online, or feed and house themselves on deployment. We have also heard of scammers re-using servicemembers’ photos again and again, so it can be helpful to do some online research on the love interest’s name, photos, and details to check the story out.

If an online love interest asks you for money:

  • Slow down and talk to someone you trust. These scammers want to rush you, often professing love right away; or pressuring you to move your conversation off the dating site.
  • Never wire money, put money on a gift card or cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.
  • If you sent money to a scammer, contact the company you used to send the money (wire transfer service, gift card company, or cash reload card company) and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed if possible.
  • Report your experience to the dating site and to the FTC.

For Military Consumer Month, share this video to help military consumers steer clear of online romance scams.

 

Comments

My sister=in-law fell into the Military Romance scam through Facebook and was bilked for over $8,000.00 until we realized what was happening. I asked her for a photo of her new online love and when it arrived it was a photo of a retired military man that apparently they use over and over again. By the way...all this took place in Spain! So there are no boundaries with these scammers.

I was scammed by a Richard Enzo Duvan who posed as a representative of Kames Capital Investment International of Edinburgh, Scotland. In researching, I discovered he had used the same "lingo" on a woman in Michigan.

You can use Google Images to search for a photo to see who it actually belongs to. Most have no idea that their photo is being used for nefarious purposes.

How do you use google to put a photo in ? I tried and I was unable to. I was scammed out of a lot of money which I’ll never get back. I reported it to the IRS, FTC and FBI. But I now have debt I am paying for b/c of it. I feel like a total fool. But I kept all of our emails, texts, transactions - his so called mugging where money I sent was taken and his wrist were slit. He was good, I very stupid. I only wish there was something I could do to protect others from him on the dating websites or in general

TO Winbell - I have copied and pasted emails, posts, pictures, messenger texts, voice mail message with voice and I have them available if FTC or any law enforcement agency wants them. I have fake documents, plane ticket, field trip forms, hospital invoice and United Kingdom contact and bank address and account number. I did a background and a reverse phone number and found a second name - maybe he is the scammer with several aliases and other phone numbers - and the Facebook picture and the Facebook name are all fake along with the kids' names and their emails.. I was very fortunate that MoneyGram had been watching and indicated to me there had been some fraud in the area(?) and called me to verify that I knew the requester and the receiver .. ----I had to say no, I couldn't lie. I had never met either one so I was able to get refund of £1000. Oh, the man was gorgeous, his voice was intriguing and he had the most flattering things to say. As lonely divorcees or widows, we are perfect prey. He was so conniving. Be skeptical and don't get wound up - cause it hurts emotionally, too.

Winbell - I forgot to say that I tried the reverse photo trick but the photo(s) that he used were not in any data base collection. SO there wasn't anything that came up. But remember the person who is talking to you with 'that' picture is not him..

My scammer’s pics and phone #’s and other information does not come up either, very sexy voice, promises are every woman’s dream, needs medical attention but already owes the hospital so needs $ to take trip to the city to reach the hospital, $ to pay for previous expenses plus new charges he’ll incur! Mad at me for not paying for him to return to the states, did I mention I paid for his $1700 plane ticket and the day before he was supposed to come home, someone stole his passport?!! How convenient?!! Now the hotel has thrown him out on the streets because he can’t pay his room, I offered to pay that by credit card too, they won’t accept it?!

Does this person happen to be in Indonesia? I heard of that guy

how do you add a photo by my phone of a potential scamer

As you know online dating can be risky and dangerous. Never give into the asking of money on any occasion.Save yourself time and aggravated tension.
Be safe.

I've been scammed by a love interest of over 10,000 before I realized it was a scam.

Me too. Don't beat yourself up......like I have a thousand times, over and over again. I'd love to be there when they have to answer to the Big Guy upstairs.

My sister is being scammed by a Joshua Williams who claims to be in the military. He says he’s from Florida. She sends him 25 dollars a week in iTunes cards for his phone bill! We had he ask him what branch he was and he didn’t know! We convinced her not to send money and he has her crying all day now! Please help!,

Ive been scammed by a military Sgt Rodriguez. Goes by different names but uses the same pictures and stories.

hey are u willing to contact me,i believe we have both been scammed by the same person

I was to. His name was James Rodriguez. I knew something was up. But thank God I didn't send no money. I feel so dumb.

I didn't send him any money but he attempted to get money from me. James Rodriguez SGT. We might be talking about the same person?

I'm after some information about a James Rodrigues he has been trying to get money from me he's been telling he's in Syria but works for us army and told me he loves me etc does anybody have a picture cos I do

Are you able to provide a picture of this person I think I might be dealing with this same person now

I think I’m being scammed by a James Rodriguez who claims to be an Engineer on an oil rig

My sister was scammed out of $600 using Amazon cards by some claiming to be a Dennis William using Shawn Booth's pictures (2015 Bachelorette show bachelor). He promised to move her from PA to TN. My sister would not believe her family when we told her, "she was being scammed."

Not being a man of hefty mean, I have learned that if woman asks for anything more than your time and in person meeting, and willing to meet you half way, then you need to be weary of them.

Watch out for those couriers. The fake courier scam is massively abused in these.

To Sandi, I used the google images and the picture I was looking for was not there. does this mean he is a scammer or not....Thanks for your time and attention.

POF is INFECTED with scammers!!! 8 out of the 10 letters a day i get r Eastern European scammers. Their MO is always the same.Watch their grammar, and how English is a second language for them. Ask them lots of ?s as they get annoyed quite quickly. Google their names and phone numbers. The phone will be in a different state than they say they r in.They will have NO friends on FB. They will have NO digital footprint on the web as they make up or steal the names. One i ran into stole the id of a guy in Wisc for 3 years. I called the landline listed to let the real guy know that he should watch his financials as his id was being used. The scammer threatened my life. Do not tell them any personal info about yourself until u r positive its a real person here. Set up a fake email because they want your email to hack into your bank acct. You can spot them by the line of bs they throw at you. Anerican guys don't talk like that. Tell them the FtC is monitoring the site, watch how fast they disappear. Check the military base they say they r from, it ususaly doesn't exist.if u talk to them by phone it will be hard to understand them as their accents r thick. They don't understand American slang, so use it. They will ask for 1,000 Iphones to use at their work "site". They r always "independent contractors" or engineers. Pictures can be photo shopped. They do not answer direct questions when asked, but will bring the conversation back to you.Do NOT be afraid of calling them out!!! They hate being called scammers and will disappear vs trying to prove you wrong

When I had Instagram, I had several men pretending to be American Servicemen trying to talk to me. I noticed the broken English and overt sexism they used when messaging me and I know American men don't speak that way. I asked questions about things going on in the US currently and they had no clue what I was talking about. They said they were on humanitarian missions in Afghanistan and when I called them out on it, they called me terrible names. One of them I busted when I told him to send me a selfie as proof and he sent me a picture of a servicemen that wasn't a selfie. On his profile, he had several pictures of a soldier, but you could tell from talking to him that he clearly wasn't American. He claimed to be from Miami, FL.

I have been talking to a guy on Instagram who said he was in the US Army his Username is Leslierichy007. We moved to chatting in Hangouts - luckily I’m very cautious online so I set up a brand new email address using my Instagram user name. The very next day he asked me for a $50 iTunes card. I looked into this as I was very suspicious about this. Lots of sites said he would be a scammer. I really want to report him and get that profile shut down as most of his followers are women,

Lala- I think I am being scammed too. I have been talking to the guy that's a Captain in the Army from Instagram. We use hangouts as well. Said he couldn't use voice or video from Afghanistan or he would get into a lot of trouble. I want to believe him as I have fallen in love with him. He just ask me to buy an itunes gift card so he could continue talking to me. Said that he used it to purchase internet service. I think I am being duped. How can I find out if he is real or not.

He can't use an iTunes card to buy internet service. That is not true.

The only place to use an iTunes card is at the iTunes store, to buy online music, apps or books.

I believe we're being scammed by the same person...he said his name is Robert Johnson n stationed in Iraq. We're on hangouts now, he wants me to get him a itune card or ANY credit or gift card so he can continue to talk to me cuz his internet connections have been cut off n having to use a friends WiFi. He's very sexy n did video chat once but got disconnected immediately, he said it was a poor connection there. He sent lots of pictures n 1 video, but he said he can't send any now cuz military won't allow it.
He says he wants to meet me n move to where I'm at n claims he's deeply in love with me n wants to get married

Can we share their pic here? I am being scammed too by a guy I met on Instagram and he asked me to go to hangouts. He claims he is a general surgeon working for the united nations in Afghanistan. He asked me to apply for his vacation and sent me the phony looking fabricated letter from the UN. I know it is not real. Everytime I question him he gets frustrated and says why do you always doubt me my love? He also sent me his id which I can also tell is fake. He has video called me from Hangouts, but I think it is prerecorded because it never has sound and he doesn't waive back or anything. He says his name is Dr. Mike William, but I also found the same picture of him on linked in with a different name. If we can post or share pics maybe that would cancel out a few of us. I havent sent any money, nor will I, I just want him to get caught and stopped.

Do u have a pic?

Oh the guy who scammed me he didn’t disappear when I called him out on it, more than once. He continued but I didn’t guve him anymore more money. When I asked personal questions he often ignored them. He answers what he wanted to answer and left me hanging on the rest. When I told him about him scamming me, he sent me text “I never gave up on you and never will.. I have been humiliated enough. It’s an insult. For you to every think of me in the manner you have. Well.. thank you. I have managed to sort myself out.. I should be out of here by latest Wednesday/Thursday depending on when I finish up here. If you want me to come over, then text me the airport you should be landing where you can pick me from. Otherwise I will just fly back to Austin. Get back to me urgently. I believe seeing is believing. My presence is going to speak volume. And I vow to prove to you that I’m 100% for real. And will never do anything to hurt someone I’m In love with.” After that is when he supposedly bought his plane tickets from Dubai to The US. His flight info was correct but he didn’t send it to me as I requested. Which was to forward the email he received from the airline, to me. When he didn’t do that that was my final confirmation he is fake. Goes by the name Elvin Larsson. He’s very strategic in what he does.

This sounds so much like the man I am in a relationship with...is there a way to swap photos?

My scammer, military scammer too. Met on a dating site (Secret - DO not ever use). Shared phone numbers and texted from there. Shared pics and talked for a month. I fell for a $50 eBay gift card (sigh, stupid) and he almost got phones! Thank goodness companies are more keen to these scams to protect their customers. He asked for a cc and I said absolutely not. Asked again and again and said hey, there are safer ways like Venmo that are typically used to send other money without divulging any card or bank data and why the hell would I give you my credit card for YOU to give ME money. Just before reporting the guy to the FTC I texted the guy who was giving my legit pictures and TONS of them including with kids with the last name of Fancy and this is his crazy response:

OMG God.. Babe
It's so hurt and hurt and hurt again.. When all you think is that I'm a scam. No I'm not and never will I be one.
You should know I gave you my whole heart and soul. I love you deep down my heart. Don't judge me with how we started our conversation, the day I ask you if you've a cc. Then we started talking and trying to know each other and I just wanna know everything about you. I only asked you to know and nothing else trust me real. Babe if I'm not real what will be my game talking to you after I told you everything about my life how I lose my ex wife who cheated and betrayed me after everything I gave her. I don't want to be hurt the same way that's why I'm trying to know everything about you.
I'm not a scam believe me. It's hurt you couldn't trust me and I trust you with my life that's more reasons why I told my manager to put some money with you so you can send to me honey.
Babe I'm real and I can't fool you for no reasons, because you're the woman behind my smile, my heart as chosen you, and I don't wanna lose you for any reasons okay honey. Trust me babe. Don't judge me with cc or whatever you're thinking right there. You're the woman I wanna to spend the rest of my life loving care for.
I beg you in the name of God.. I don't wanna lose you for any reasons. You’re the greatest blessing I have ever had in my life, and I wouldn’t want the world to take you away from me. You’re more the just someone to me, you’re my person. I must have done something incredibly right in my old lifetime that I get to have you in this era. You are the most precious human being that God has given me.

Honey❤ I don’t want to lose you. You have become a great part of me whom I can’t afford to lose. This is a once in a lifetime love and I intend to keep it forever (even longer than forever).
I will take all of you, of us. I will be your light, as you are to me. I will be your strength and your courage along the bumpy road. I will be there for you. I will hold you tight because, no, I don’t ever want to lose you. I want you to know and believe me I'm not scam please babe stop imaging if I'm one of them. God forbid I reject it, because I will never be one.

Well, there you go. Don’t believe him lol. I’ve learned my lesson! I feel so stupid but reading all of these I’m glad I’m not the only one. And we aren’t stupid. But they pray on our vulnerabilities and before you know it, are tugging on your heartstrings and your wallet! Never again!

I am on POF,CA and it is full of scammers. I met a small group I communicate with. I still don't give out my phone number. I have been approached 8x so far, another today. They are so obvious,same MO. The one today, AM a doctor. I saw that and it was enough. He was a doctor in Florida. I'm on the other side of states buddy. Always start with AM, he also had a photo of bills of money. I wanted to throw up. I reported him as I did the others. I hope us women are wising up. I still punish myself for being taken and its been 4 years now. I guess it's because I am still paying on it.

I also was scammed in 2015 and did send money, but was called by my bank that the $$ I had put into an account was a "Fraud & Scam". Needles to say I stopped the 1 ck, and with the help of a Police Officer, I was able to get back the other ck.The guy who scammed me has 14 different names and is on Facebook with 3 of them.He was on Skype when I met him. Perhaps Facebook & Skype need to be fined like Western Union and is in the process of giving back some of the money.

What was the name he went by, I am sure I am connected to one and wish FTC would use me to reel him in I am sure he is just one of a million in his group. You can tell it is more than one based on text conversations. Some are very literate in the English language while others are not. The caller's voice is always the same person. This one is bold enough to ask for over $30000 after one month of conversation. I would like to know whose pictures he is using to warn him. I am going to try Google images to see if I can find the real person these pictures belong too.

my husband is in denial. he has been talkin to a woman from romaina she has him believing that she is in love with him. she managed to get into the discover bank system and pretended to work there. I have tried to tell him she is scamming him but he will not listen to me. he is giving up his wife and son for someone that is not even real. but his loss he should have better since then that to believe someone on the other side of the world.

I had the same thing happened with my husband. This girl who pretended as half Turkish initiated their meeting from LinkedIn. In 3 weeks time she had my husband believed that he is in loved with her and started asking for 5 grand!

I understand exactly how you feel. My dad has been having an online affair with a woman who claims to live near him but for some unknown reason she is stuck in China with no money to get home because she lent all her money to other people who now owe her. My dad had stupidly opened a bank account for her, gave her all of his personal info and next thing I know my mom is talking about someone trying to charge $10,000 to their credit card. So not realizing that she is a scammer, her next idea is to have her friends that owe her money to take out credit cards using some fake names and use the my dads address for where to send the bill to....Two different credit cards were used and when he asks her what happened she says she didn't know they were fake and these were real people that owed her money. After this my dad still thinks she is in China with no way to get home. She has been there supposedly almost 8 months now with no money for even food for the past 3 months...so everyday she emails him honey cant you just send me like $200 so i can get food. Her latest scam is sending him more fake credit cards to pay for a few hundred dollars on an iTunes gift card. Thankfully he keeps telling her he cannot help her at all financially since he got screwed over twice. She still does not stop, every few days since he told her no she still emails baby please honey do this for me i promise your wife won't find out. I love my dad to death and a part of me really wants to have a serious talk with him but the way I found out about this was about 8 months ago he asked me to look at something on his computer and I noticed in his email something saying I love you baby so much to some unknown woman. I probably should have asked at the time, what is this? But since then I have been going and reading the sent messages because he deletes the inbox emails and that's how I found all this. Technically I only know all this cuz I invaded his privacy and I just can't seem to bring myself to tell him I know. My mom found out about the first two attempts and told him she was going to divorce him if he didn't stop talking to her. Yet he still does, believing that she will come home from China and they can see each other secretly. Sorry for the book reply but I am so frustrated with this and this is the only way to get it out for right now. So just know I know exactly how disappointed you and your son must feel.

I heard that people on O-k cupid take girls out to eat and when the meal is over, they say they left their wallet at home. So the girl ends of paying and the guy keeps looking for new girls and getting free meals over and over again.

I was scammed by someone on FB who friended me. We developed a relationship online. He said he was in Afganistan on a humanitarian mission and needed help getting a package back to the U.S. After awhile he hit me up for money to help get this package home through the use of a diplomat. Needless to say I believed him and lost a lot of money in the process.

i was a victim too to the same case you are describing. my God, i lost so much money as well.

Can you say the guys name? The same thing happened to me but I didn't fall for it. This guy's name is Steven Morales. When I found out who he really was he blocked me.

Wao the same thing happened to me. I was talking with a guy on Hangouts and after few months he asked me for my phone number and address so he can send me a package with some cash he found while in a mission in Syria and he also wanted to send a ring as a proof of his love for me, but right there something told me that this isn’t right! So I knew he was a scammer and I let him know that he picked up the wrong woman to scam and I blocked him. I would never give anyone my personal information or send money to someone that I have never met. Not me!

it's unfortunate that I couldn't read this site a month ago when I also fell into the same trap. those scammers are really professional artists and the one i encountered conspires with another so-called courier company. I have lost much money and really sad about it. never trust anyone offline.

Oh my Gosh, the same thing happened to me. Was his name Nicholas J Townsend? The so called diplomat was David Geary and he was stuck in Italy with the pkg. I sent him money like a jerk. I lost money too.

Thank you as always for your very informative newsletter. Because of your newsletters, I have not been scammed and I pray that I am never scammed. I am 72 years old and I always urger the elderly to sign up for your newsletters. Thank you in advance for caring

I am getting a lot of women bothering me on Hangouts and messenger. they are always in guianna taking care of sick family members. I no sooner delete 10 ten more comes on

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