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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

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

Anita, do you have pics of this person I have shared a similar experience. Would like to see if its the same guy.

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?

Can you please send me a picture of this person cause he has asked for iTunes cards as well an wants me to send money to a account in NY 3500 to leave Syria same name dr Micheal Williams please

This sounds like the same person I'm on hangouts with. Claims he has a daughter, Jenny. Also asked for ITunes cards. I would love to see a picture to make sure it is the same person.

Please do u have a picture of Mike Williams that I've talking to on hangouts he has being asking for iTunes cards for internet service he says hes in Syria on that hes with UNICEF a doctor Micheal s Williams I meet him on face book please reply back

Lita, this is exactly what he is telling me. Does he have tattoos on his muscular upper arms? Did he say he has a daughter named Jenny?

I would love to see a picture too. Sounds like my guy, Vincent Baldwin. I deleted his picture one of the times I blocked him

I had a similar experience the guy claimed to be a surgeon for the UN in Afghanistan. Wife died in car accident lived in Colorado Springs and moved to Manhattan. Has a 16 year old daughter. He contacted me on Words with friends and the chatted with me on Handout. He had asked me to send $10,000 for medical supplies which I did not. He professed his love. then I found out he was a Black man from Nigeria . And that was that His name was Alex William

Looks like the same guy who scammed me do u have any picture of him

What’s his name? I had same with a James Proctor on LinkedIn. Army Captain in Syria.

Yes. I did the same. Set up an email just for that. I was curious on the angle. Happened in 2 week intervals. Phone fell in water while on patrol and they were ambushed . Could no longer take pictures. Can't remember what order, but next was he needed money for internet, then bomb blew up food store room... Since then he's been starving... He wanted me to email to confirm his identity. The so called official email was a google account. I didn't need to google to know that was a fake... It goes on and on like that. He doesn't even click that I'm onto him. At least I've been keeping him occupied Instagram @ sgtbrandon. scott 16 mega cheesy profile pic

omg I hate Instagram so many military scammers

Omg I’m talk to guy say his in Afghanistan for basic training but his live in cocoa Florida his 39 year old his mother is uk and his father is Spanish .. his tell me his love me want be with me that his have son that 6 his have accents too his say because his mix his mom from uk his alway ask me for amazon cards

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!

This sounds like the same guy that I'm talking with. He is a marine stationed in Poole, England. He is very specific and I asked where he is stationed and that place exist. It's just asking me for iTunes and Amazon cards. I know a military man wouldn't do that. He also said he doesn't have access to his account until he back to the states and what really got me was he said he needed help getting home because his flight money was in his account and I know the military gets you home. I didn't give in to that but I fell for him and got him iTunes and Amazon cards. Never sending him my account number. I also found several accounts on Instagram when I Google image him with different names same pictures. He goes bye james brown with me. Other names duncan brown. Instagram brownmark, brownsmith, Duncanbrown

I cannot believe how similar that is to the @ sgtbrandon. scott 16 on Instagram... I've already found a few chicks he's been trying this scam on. I've posted his screenshot on my Instagram. Got to get it circulating

your military scammer sounds just like the scammer i ran into. when i called him out on the scam he tried everything except for getting on skype to video chat. he vowed his undying love for me and he is who he say he is., he even sent me a bank account of his so called german mother bank account with a woman picture, that didn't match the picture of the lady in the picture with him. i couldn't verify that he was even in the miitary. i asked for a les (its like a paycheck stub for the military). he sent me a fake one and i knew it, so i went to a army recruiting office w/the fake les and they said if he was in Afghanistan, he would have oversea and hazardous pay and other extra pay other than his basic pay. The ssn on his les didn't match his dob or the state he says he was born in. He gave me a fake military id( i found the site where he got it from) and a fake les and a fake drivers license, it was so real i had to go to the dmv website, the state the drivers license was from and check to see if it was real. it wasn't!!! The site said the information was not a match in their system. Everything he gave me to prove his identity, i couldn't verify, and when i let him know this, he just kept saying he is real and someone who wants his money( cause he has a lot back home in the states) is hacking his information. I said really?! You must be a billionaire cause they took you right out of exists from the military and the state you say you lived in all your life. And they must have it in for your mom, dad and son because they aren't in the system either. I told him, he only exists on the net and no where else. I told him, i knew he was a African scamming women in the U.S., oh he got upset and said i have never ever been a black man or lived in the jungle!! i laughed!! He really thought the more he said he loved me and would never ever hurt me and that when he proves to me he is real i will owe him an apology( that i would believe him). I said, i would but you and i both know that, that day will never come. I never got my apology and i knew, i never would by the way he just kept on insisting he is the soldier in the picture. i finally told him Goodbye. I signed off all my chat sites.

This sounds exactly about the guythis sounds exactly about the guy that I'm chatting with everything was cool until he asked for me to send a Amazon card so he can't call me. Which didn't make sense to me because why do you need and Amazon card to call but you can text. I'm glad I wasn't fooled into doing it because I'm pretty sure that they have means of communication for the military to reach out to their family and loved ones.

This sounds exactly about the guythis sounds exactly about the guy that I'm chatting with everything was cool until he asked for me to send a Amazon card so he can't call me. Which didn't make sense to me because why do you need and Amazon card to call but you can text. I'm glad I wasn't fooled into doing it because I'm pretty sure that they have means of communication for the military to reach out to their family and loved ones. When I told him that I wasn't going to do it he told me okay and don't bother that's how I know he was trying to scam.

I'm just reading this scam and I think my mother has been scammed by the same person .. Do you by any chance have a picture of this so called 'Elvin Larsson'? Also did he mention he had kids? Which country is he from?

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.

Do you have a name? Someone is trying to do this to me as well

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

I was scammed by a man who goes by James Adams from Houston, Texas he claimed. Also uses name Thomas Smitherman.

How does one spoof a number? Why can't we stop spoofing?

I have been in the same boat as most of everyone on here. I too didn't want to believe it, but it finally sunk in. Yes, I have beaten myself up over it, now having to look into bankruptcy because I am in that much debt from everything that happened. Please anyone who thinks otherwise, read these comments that are being posted. They are telling you exactly what can happen if you fall for this type of scam. Protect yourself as much as possible.

I was scammed out of $33k by a guy calling himself Casey Oliver. He found me on Instagram and we moved our convos over to hangouts. He claimed to be a 1st class Sargent in the Army serving in Afghanistan. His wife died from lung cancer and has an 8 year old daughter. I fell hard for him. The only proof I had was the pics he sent me. He was restricted from video chats, phone calls, and taking selfies. He needed the money to release his luggage from holding and once the luggage was released he can retire. He claimed that all his investments were in that luggage, over $600k worth.
He claimed to love me right away and at first I was skeptical about it but he was definitely good at manipulating me and got the money. Now I’m looking at bankruptcy and losing everything I’ve worked so hard to get after my divorce!! I feel like the stupidest person ever!! I hope he gets what he deserves!!

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