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Romance scams will cost you

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It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. You may think you spend a lot on flowers or chocolate, but losing money in a romance scam would cost you even more. Last year, people reported losing $143 million to romance scams – a higher total than for any other type of scam reported to the FTC. And, according to a new FTC Data Spotlight, reports of romance scams are on the rise.

What do we mean by romance scams? We’re not talking about the person you thought was “the one” but ended up being a dud. We’re talking about people you meet online, who lavish you with attention … and then ask for money. Usually they want the money by wire transfer or gift card. They might claim they need it for a medical emergency or to come visit you. Then they take your money, but there’s no surgery and no trip.

Romance scammers are hard at work wooing people on dating apps and social media. They may lift photos to create an attractive profile or even steal the identity of a real person. Just like with real romances, it may take them some time to gain your trust, but the scammer’s payoff can be big. Last year, people reported a median loss of $2,600 from romance scams.

How can you avoid romance scams?

  • Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
  • Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers. Check the person’s photo using your search engine’s “search by image” feature. If the same picture shows up with a different name, that’s a red flag.
  • Talk to someone about this new love interest. And pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
  • If you suspect a romance scam, cut off contact right away. Then, report to the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the dating site where you met the scammer, too.

For more information, read Online Dating Scams or watch this video:

Tagged with: imposter, online dating, scam

Comments

What was the name of this guy. I think I am in contact with same guy. Wife died in auto crash 7 years ago. Bringing up daughter on his own. she spoke to me wants me to be her mum. Happy that I am making her daddy so happy. etc. Goes by name Raphael.

i think we are talking with the same guy.wife died in accident and has a daughter name kate.presently in ghana dealing with his inheritance and badly need money because he was holdup by hoodlums in ghana.his name is daniel dailey but now i saw the other name is frank.oh my

Be careful this sounds like the same man that scammed me. Wife died in car accident. Daughter emailed me very friendly. He also told she thinks of me as her mother. I learned if you haven't met them in person it's a scam. Don't send money.

I've noticed the same thing on Words with Friends. They are more interested in chatting than in playing, and they very quickly think I am 'special' and want to get to know me better. English grammar is usually very awkward, and though they are American, they nearly always to be from one state, living in another state, but currently working overseas somewhere. I've had they ask me to chat on HangOut or What's App, both of which are International chat sites. Recently, one started right up front telling me he had a short-term financial problem and needed a load. When I told him I didn't have money to send him, the told me the beauty of it was that it only involved gift cards! BIG RED FLAG!! I told him NO!, reported him to WWF and resigned the game. I noticed he was gone from the game and from FaceBook within a matter of a minute or two!
Another common thread is that they are with the US Military, or are a doctor with a UN Peace-Keeping mission, usually somewhere in the Middle East. And they are always widowed or divorced, with young kids.

I too have had conversations with someone who is a widower & has three grandchildren. He needed money to get more access to phone or computer capabilities? Gets very mad when I mentioned being a scammer. Professes his love, we’ll have a new life when he returns from Sea?? Met on hangouts??

I have also been contacted on Facebook for friend request, unknown to me. Their profile is new and lacks information. Mine used someone else's pictures, even a video he doctored to seem he was taking to me. I knew from the start what he was but had fun jerking him along.

My rule is that if I don't know the person then they can not be my FB friend. Sure I only have 45 FB friends, but know them all. Delete all other requests.

You’re spot on Never a Sucker! My rule is this: Do not accept friend requests from anyone you wouldn’t at least speak to while you’re both shopping in the same store. This means that even people with whom I may have 155 mutual friends get declined on my FB page. If in doubt, I do not accept nor decline their request. I simply send the person a private message apologizing that I am having trouble remembering how we know each other and ask the person to remind me. 90% of the time, I never get a response. Interestingly, I’ve had people with whom I have several mutual friends get upset when I explain to them that I don’t accept requests from ANYONE whose existence I was not aware of prior to their Friend Request! Same thing on Instagram as well as Twitter.

I’ve found that the best way to keep the “sketchy” folks out of your social media accounts is to use the highest security setting available. ALL accounts should require that YOU individually screen the follower/friend request, so you can accept or decline or your own terms.

The security on my Facebook account is so high that if you and I don’t have any mutual friends, you cannot even attempt to friend me. I friend not on Social Media introduced me to a friend of hers two states away. Because we had no mutual friends on FB, and we both use the same high security setting, neither of our accounts allowed us to become friends. I opted to remove my security settings long enough to “become FB friends.” Then, I was distracted and didn’t go back to FB until the next day. Within 12 hours, an man who fit the bill as a potential scammer sent me a friend request. I reported his request to FB as sketchy which automatically blocked him from my account.

Also, as a victim of ID fraud offline, I was given several tips (or orders really) by law enforcement as to how to keep my Social Media safer.
*Do Not include your birthday. That’s an identifying piece of info hard to find if it’s not on FB... even if only available for your friends to see.
*Do Not List your mother or her brothers or her parents as a “family member” unless you’re sure doing so will not make your mother’s maiden name available anywhere on FB.
*Don’t use any words or numbers in ANY password that could be found in your FB profile or even just a post or reply. Pics of your kid eating cupcakes at school for his bday... means you can NEVER use any variation of the numbers included in the birthday in passwords. Mentioning your grandchild, niece or even animal by name also put all of those off limits for ANY password.
*Finally, do not accept friend requests from anyone because you’re in so many of the same FB Groups, ie Nascar, GOT, Your Alma Mater, Mommy groups. Though seeing their name often on posts w/in the group may make them seem familiar, never forget they are just as much a stranger as anyone else!

I did the same thing. And he was a bit miffed when I told him I was on to him all along. Very naughty! Hahaha In response, I said that I was sorry that he had to do this for a living because it was in direct opposition to the teaching of God. Then I blessed him and his family.

I’ve been scammed out of about $200,000, lost all access to get a bank account, credit cards are out of the question!!! I’ve lost my dignity, self worth and truly wish I was dead!!! I’d rather lose my life than my integrity.
THERE NEEDS TO BE A PLACE TO POST THESE FRAUDS. HOW THEY DID IT KNON EMAIL ADDRESSES AND ANYTHING ELSE. ONE THAT DOESNT COST ANYTHING. There are tons of Americans who have lost everything to these thieves yet no one in the government seems to care. I will never trust another person ever again!!! Maybe a place where others got in the same situation, share our stories, and support. Plus maybe someone already knows of a site like this. But I’ve only run across paid sites that do nothing. HELP!!!

Zoey A lot of us were looking for love and got scammed and heart broken. But is there any way to get our money back that you have heard of ??? Does anybody know if we can get our money back from a romance scam ???

Zoey350Z. I'm sorry to hear of this. I came to this site looking for advice to get my mother to quit sending money to a scammer. She has nothing left and still looking for ways to send him money. I do not know what to do. We have shown her how it works, how his photos are all over the internet, showed her other stories with the same exact scam (I'm in Malaysia, an engineer, can't get out of the country) and she's been doing this now for a couple years. The police say they can't do anything because she's sending it of her own free will. She won't quit. It's all about him.

People dont people that they are psychopaths. They dont care about how devoted you end up, they keep their eye on the prize & you're not it. It's the money. They start "grooming" you the minute you say hi. They are undercover manipulators and they are good at it. Most people don't know that they are second, third or fourth generation fraudsters. They can also work in groups. They are trained also.

Do romance scammers use ask for gift cards for places like Amazon frequently??

Your info was a big help

My brother has women scamming him all the time wanting $100 so they can come see him. They want it on an Amazon card. He is lonely and vulnerable so he sends it to them. Now he is in a financial mess. There has got to be some way to stop these predators.

They absolutely will. Really, they'll ask for anything they think the mark will go for. The worst of them (and, sadly, the most successful) will try to find the mark's "weakness." Music lover? iTunes gift card. Early tech adopter? They might try something like Bitcoin. That's part of the point of the grooming: to find the mark's soft spots.

I know a online dater thst i met online she says she in lagos Nigeria. I have been giving her money we talked on the phone for a small time in all i giving her gify card and wired money money gram disallowed ther service and wouldnt reveal the reason the pics are pretty but she doesnt sends them wxactly what i asked and usees her belief to be readon im sure im being scammed she wants money to come here i have dailed myself esteem ridiculously and hope i could awaken or wisen up from this foolish nonsensense .

I have been chatting with a very handsome man widower, son in boarding school in Canada, love letters that will melt your heart, all the right words, he needed money for UN vacation . All the right words, love and want to be with me.. He wants this now, telling me to get Amazon card or Apple card, he got mad because I didn't do what he said, I told him this relationship is ending and why in a long chat. He has a lovely voice. Yes, they know how to manipulate you.

is the phone number 1-289-278-2809

YES they do I have spent so much on those cards I can't tell you how much I just didn't think about it till I started reading about gift card scams

They ask for Amazon cards, then ask you to put money on it. Don't do it.

Thank you for this information.

yes they use Amazon ,I tunes Googleplay, and stream,

I think it's strange to meet people this way in the first place. People always met in person before the internet. And yet I know happily married people who met this way. I think the more scams that come up, the fewer people will meet this way.

I have been getting these adult sites every day. I put them in my spam. I know they're a fraud. At the end of each day I have as much as 53 in my spam. I tried to unsubscribe but that cause a worse problem. I have no idea how to ride these people. Some actually believe I have a Facebook account. Of which I don't.

Spdate is one that sends me over really nasty things. I hope someone coming help, but people all say they receive the same junk and just put them in spam....

Is there a way to block emails on your email server? If there is, you can set blocks on these things and they will be dumped into your email's trash setting automatically and you won't have to look at them again.

I’m happily married, and not on dating sites, but many online scammers use the same techniques. The unsubscribe button is one of the worst things to click. It often is just a tool that they use to verify that yours is an active email address. Clicking it tells them there’s a live person on the other end to harass, then they really focus their scamming efforts on you. They often have multiple email addresses or other websites that they then inundate your inbox from with hundreds of messages from sites you’ve never even visited and on it goes. I never hit unsubscribe anymore.

Always ask them to live cam so that you can see who your really talking with if they refuse they are fake plain and simple

Skype or similar video calls are not reliable means to verify identity either, with various filters, if someone slightly resembles a person, such as a celebrity, they could pass themselves off as said person. I have a relative, very vulnerable widow, who is being scammed by someone claiming to be Kenny Chesney. Hasn't asked for money, or so she says but she truly believes this is him.

Hi my sister is also being scammed by someone purporting to be Kenny Chesney. She has left her husband and 2 kids and was expecting to be picked up from our local airport this weekend. Guess what.. trouble with the plane. I have reported it to the police in the UK. As far as I know she hasn't parted with any cash.

There is one I’ve been chatting with said he was divorced with a daughter , said he was in the Army . The real one is in military , I knew what was going on , first military personal will not contact you to be a friend they have families friends and a lot of people in their lives . After a while he stared answering wrong or a lot of misspelling words , said he was out on patrol and dropped his phone and broke screen no money to get it fixed could I put a iTunes card in my account and then my acct. number so he could get his hands on what I don’t even have . I told him no so dropped that . Then just yesterday he wanted to reconnect , but his phone wasn’t working yet , ok how in the hell did he get in contact with me , I deleted everything and blocked him . I really feel bad for the real military person ID he used . And hope nothing bad happened to him when it wasn’t his fault . The thing that really bugs me the most I’ve meet some terrific men on Facebook and then some slime balls and some honest to goodness Military .

He sounds similar to one that used to talk to me

Sounds the same as mine... I've simply been keeping him occupied so that's a tiny bit less time he has for someone who may not k is the basics or think to google... Pretty standard script. Makes me mad too... How to let military know? How to let the person who's pics have been stolen know?

I used google image and found the military person picture in the photo. It was a long shot but the fake person put a picture of a real vet that has a legitimate place to help them play baseball. I PM him on his facebook account with the legitimate vet and he said that was him in the picture and his photos where stolen years ago in Iraq. He gets people talking to him at least 3-4 times a week about scams. He said people in the military do not need money sent to them ever.

This is especially the case with senior citizens, dating sites are breeding grounds for criminals. My mom got fleeced before she passed away and they had convinced her that her sons were out to control her (instead of help her); she had Dementia that was not diagnosed in time and they took her to the cleaners. Beware of these scams for senior citizens, if you catch them early you may be able to save your loved one.

I was hit hard two years ago. Tried sending to FTC, but nothing came of it. Also sent info tomZFBI, nothing there either. I feel this guy not only a scammer but involved as a money man for terrorists. Have photos, numerous emails. If anything’s involved in money laundering. I even called the FBI in Washington and was told they don’t have the staff to handle all the scam complaints. I am a retired lady and was hit very hard. I kept all phone numbers too. Just can’t get any help.

Read the signs and warnings in this article. Never, never, never send money to someone you cannot touch and see in person. Even then, heed all caution before giving money to anyone!

wish there was more protection for the elderly. these scams are as clear as day. i have no clue why anyone would even bother, but loneliness is loneliness and these scum bags fill a void. unfortunately it is very costly and many old people die broke falling for this nonsense. keep in touch with your loved ones and worse comes to worse destroy their laptops. get them outside or to social functions so they can meet actual people! online stuff is a big sespool.

Anyone talking to a US Army soldier in Libya who goes by the name Fredrick Kahn? Said he lost his parents at 12 and was raised by his uncle. He is on his second deployment but returning to the states in late February 2019. He sent his "box" as he calls it to me for safe keeping. It evidently contains his personal effects. When it arrived in the states on Monday this week, I received a call that it would be delivered by a local company and that I needed to pay $2,100 for it (state taxes). I refused, of course, and told Fredrick (via WhatsApp, but met on Hinge or Bumble). He acted shocked and upset and said it was all paid for. Then, he asked if I would secure his box (pay the taxes) and the money is in the box to pay me back. I refused and told him he was scamming. We've been talking for a month and he really romanced me...now he's gone silent after telling me that I upset him.

Great job, keep up the good work

Try reporting your case to your local police department. I am in the process of doing just that (phone report only at this point). So far, the county police have been helpful and are taking the matter very seriously. My next step is to file a written report (not yet accomplished).

Christmas Eve for scammers. Not sure what to say. These articles / stories are weekly and people won't wake up. Dating sights are a big sespool for scammers. And if you are a lonely senior on a pension prepared to get love from every corner of the world. Itunes gift cards, bitcoin, money transfers. People should know better, but as long as the money is flowing overseas the scammers won't stop. Please try to stay connected to your loved ones young and old and don't let them fall for this foolishness.

My friend got involved with an on-liner at a senior website. He was in another town, in the antique business, had to travel a lot. He supposedly went to Kenya and got in a car accident. Was put in a coma for medical reasons but could not have surgery until $15,000 was sent to the doctor because he came from the U.S. and had no medical coverage in Kenya. Of course his wallet had been lost in the accident. So the doctor contacts my friend then the son and both need her to send the money. She does it because she doesn't want anyone to be suffering without someone to help them. Then a month later he is better and on his way to Dubai on a ticket she bought him to come back to the U.S. and he gets arrested for illegally transporting Ivory that supposedly he had no idea it was illegal to do and yet he is an antique dealer? I can't dissuade her from continuing this web relationship because he is her boyfriend and he wants her to marry him. If this sounds familiar please try to help anyone you know, to not get involved in a mess like this.

These scammers can also get to you by joining closed groups on Facebook or forum discussions.

I had a guy saying he was a widower and has a daughter. He said his company headquarters is UNAMA military. He made me fall in love with him too. I read this articles and he got me good as well. I would get emails saying that money will be refunded once officer gets in to State but guess what......he never gets to state. I won't EVER fall for this again. Then people sell ur info in the black market and call you saying they with the FTC and wanting you to send more money for whatever reason they say .DONT FALL FOR IT ! Cut your losses and move on !!!

Please could someone advise, I think a family member is being scammed. although as yet he hasn't asked for money.
He calls himself David Larry anf is an engineer in the US Army, he is all sweet talk with her and after a week asked her to marry him!
I told her she is insane but she is not listening. she showed me is pictures and he has on a military uniform and its a full lenth shot of quite a handsome man aged 48. he says he's a widow with one son stephen who is 14. he lost his wife in the 2011 Japan earthquake.
what I don't get is he sent her a video clip and she said it was him but he couldn't talk to her it's not permitted he said.
I have tried googling his picture in the scam pictures but can't see him online, oh I almost forgot she said he contacted her initially on twitter then he moved her on to hangouts. never even heard of hangouts. how on earth do I convince her? she says they are madly in love and are getting married and buy a house together.

Army site has various articles on scams. .mil Honestly, I'm thinking the scammers share a standard script.

Hi I met the same man he cam to me on Twitter too and asked me to marry him after a week, he then asked me to receive a package from a company calling themselves activeoceansfreight. They contacted me and asked me to pay £2,000.00 to which I told David I haven't got that kind of money, the company then said because I'm disabled it's only £1,000.00 I told them £100.00 per month I also got a couple of video calles from their person David.t.larry, but couldn't see his face fully, when I did actually see it, he had his uniform on and was in an office so I believed him, he then told me about his son who is in boarding school in Egypt?? Needing a mother's guidance I talked to someone calling himself Stephen brown not Stephen Larry which confused me, he asked me as it was his birthday for a phone iphonex a d man United tshirt, I told his father he said well I'm sure you can manage to do this one little thing for his happiness, all this was going on for a while then a family man hot his picture on scamners blog n the photos he sent me were on scammers blog , I didn't know what to do, in all I paid £850.00 of which I'll never get back, he sent me flowers recently as he said he was planning our wedding, I was stunned by all this, planning our wedding without me, and then when I got a tracking number for this so called package all I could see was my name and address on a piece of paper no package, all this has since been reported to the police n sent off to the FBI n CID. It's still under investigation. Dont let her carry on with this man as hes fake. Like everything he promises are fake.

My friend and another friend have both been romanced by David Larry, in US Army with a child. He is a typical scammer and will stop at nothing to win over the one he is swindling out of money. Its so disheartening how this POS keeps getting away with it.

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