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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.



Scam Tags:  Romance Scams


Gerald Castenada has been in contact with me for over a year now. Has a French accent. I have pictures. Claims to have millions tied up in banks. He says he is a Civil Engineer. Smooth talker. Will sweep you off your feet and take all your money. States he's on a rig in Alaska working for Exxon. Only child.

Scammers change their name, but they will tell the similar story, no parents, wife and son died 4 years ago, no friends. A engineer working on the rig, have a big contract with oil company, after few weeks sweet words talking, his workers broke the machine, he can’t get off the rig because of the contract. Then ask me to pay for the machine to a Egypt’s company, so he can get a new machine. I just realized it’s something not right, I checked online and found it could be a scam. And track down his IP address, it’s in US, not in Italia. I didn’t send him any money, he keeps asking me to send him.

i believe this same guy is using the name Jim Snyder now. gave me the exact same story about a broken machine on the oil rig, he hurt his back really bad and his boss won't let him off the rig until he buys a new machine....but low and behold, his millions are tied up in a bank account that he can't get into bec the accounting sent his pay in full and now the bank thinks it's suspicious activity. after talking for 2 months via text and phone, he finally asked me to loan him some money. said he raised $8500 of the $12k. of course i told him no!! and just like that he's disappeared. i had bad feelings about it from the beginning. just glad i wised up!

Your’s sounds like the James who is scamming my aunt. Same BS story. She won’t tell me how much she has sent but I know it’s a lot. Do u happen to have a picture of him? I don’t know what to do fo her. Afraid she will lose all her money

Same story for me. He said his an engineer, working in Gulf of Mexico. Name Terry Allen, widow for four years, has a child, live in TX, no parents. After one month, he said something in his computer broke, he needs 200 dollars, bla bla.

Hi Billie. I am wondering if you’re able to share the pictures you mentioned in your post. I think I just recently interacted with one and I do have his pictures too. He sounded true, but borrowed money from me-yesterday. I need input. Thank you.

Same story as mine. Do you have a photo?

I have been scan by a Guy says he is from Florida and used the name of John Nicholson in army. Is going to retire after 37 years. Says he has a
son West Africa got hurt in accident He uses the name as travis Patel Pate .can you help me Hes been Texting me a 1 year and 2 months. He always ask for stuff for his son. Says he is stock in West Africa and can't get out

Where was this Rodriguez stationed. What was his excuse for needing the money. I am talking with an captain Antonio Rodriguez

Do you happen to have a photo of Rodriguez?

I have a Michael anyone else in contact with him? Please let me know..


States drilling engineer. Widower two children are in boarding school in Scotland. Needs monies to repair rig. Always wants money for something.

I am currently talking to a Michael Rodriguez. I have video chatted with him on hangouts and talk to him on the phone daily. He says he's a Navy Captain combat medic in Al tanf military base in Syria. Has 2 children, girl named Tiffany and son David. He has a Facebook page and Instagram (MichaelRodrigue119) check out for pics. Is this the same guy?

yes i am talking to him, This is the same story he telling me, same kids same every thing, do not seen him money and i have pictures of him. His kids are in Germany with the nanny? He got his vacation but because he lost his card or the bank close it down cause of a large deposit?

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."

How was she scammed by sending Amazon cards? My mom sent itune cards and amazon cards to a James.

What was James last name? I have someone I think being scammed by a James Cabrales.

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

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

Hi do you have a picture aI think is the same Robert Im chatting with

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?

Yes i have a pics

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.

Bryan walker asking for itunes. I hv a pic.. can u share .. lets compare

I have been talking to a Bryan Walker that has mysteriously stopped messaging me. Can we compare pics to see if it is the same guy?

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?

This guy scammed out of about $2500. Around February to April. Then I figured it was a scam. I stayed in contact until November. So didn’t send anymore money to him. Just stringing you see what he would say next when I told him I was broke. I don’t have any money. He tried to get all types of information from me about me. He would say he loved me. He had to go to another country and had to leave his son with a nanny and he found guild and needed help getting through customs. And I would get a lot of money if I helped. Oh geez

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.

I have a James Proctor chatting with me on hangout. States he is a MSG and has provided pics. Already assessing his feelings for me. Is he a scammer

What was his name.
I have the same story with Simone Dext.

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

Yes. There are a lot of fake military profiles.

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.


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