Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money

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Image of cupid and heartNot everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly. And they tug at your heartstrings with made-up stories about how they need money — for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. Why all of the tricks? They’re looking to steal your money.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, romance scammers are now involving their victims in online bank fraud. Here’s how it works: The scammers set up dating profiles to meet potential victims. After they form a “relationship,” they come up with reasons to ask their love interest to set up a new bank account. The scammers transfer stolen money into the new account, and then tell their victims to wire the money out of the country. Victims think they’re just helping out their soulmate, never realizing they’re aiding and abetting a crime.  

Here are some warning signs that an online love interest might be a fake. They ask you to:

  • chat off of the dating site immediately, using personal email, text, or phone
  • wire money using Western Union or Money Gram
  • set up a new bank account

Did you know you can do an image search of your love interest’s photo in your favorite search engine? If you do an image search and the person’s photo appears under several different names, you’re probably dealing with a scammer. And if the person’s online profile disappears a few days after they meet you, that’s another tip-off.

Here’s the real deal: Don’t send money to someone you met online — for any reason. If your online sweetheart asks for money, you can expect it’s a scam.

Unfortunately, online dating scams are all too common. There may be tens of thousands of victims, and only a small fraction report it to the FTC. If this happens to you, please report it at ftc.gov/complaint — click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I have seen this a couple of times. I can tell by their english. One guy, when I asked what he did for a living, he said I sell metal canned food. No salesman in the US would ever say that. This man was supposable from California.

Helen Christiana Terry is a name a scammer has stolen and is using it to extort money from men saying shes a nurse in Nigeria with UNICEF when I contacted UNICEF after she emailed me and I noticed poor english for a nursing student they told me she was a fraud she or whom ever is still using the emails to commit fraud

Please, I think my so called boyfriend is a Nigerian scammer. Someone help me. My heart is to invested. I don't wanna leave him .but I found out he is saying the same thing to other woman. I called him out n he . I need to know y they disappear on the week end please someone any one.

Hello Melanie, I feel what ur going thru, I met someone in EH and his voice didn't match the pic but to find out neither was the pic..in which came clean with but I still believed n him until he asked for my financial support..At that time everything about him I was Leary..I didn't send money and that changed the relationship.He is an African man who lived n LA but was doing "business" n Australia.. Even at time if connecting I tried to do research in him but hit a brick wall..he has a Facebook(I don't) but there is more of story and yes I totally understand how u feel but wanted to say u r not alone..keep ur head up,don't do ANYTHING u don't feel comfortable n doing

Hi Ladies:

I'm so sorry for your pain. These online scammers have no sense of decency. If you notice only one pic or this person escalates his emotions quickly - even before meeting! Then chances are he's a scammer. True love comes from meeting the person face to face, learning about each other in broad daylight - not over the internet!! Don't let yourselves be tricked into thinking these con artists are sincere.

Recently, I was scam by someone from a online dating for money. What do i do? I am lost and don't know how to get out of this situation.

If you gave the scammer your bank or credit card account numbers, contact your bank or credit card company and ask how to protect your accounts.

Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations. If you sent money by wire transfer service, you can report the scammer to the company.

i am tera 22 reporting the name of LT.GEN.BEN HODGES i am talking to him every day and share a sweet words always and he is very sweet man i know a General can be.

he ask me to open an account to transfer money bank to bank a very large amount of money.and i refuse to do it he still talking to and ask to marry him and sending sweet image of heart all the time it sense like a real one

i meet him in accidentally i did not look for him at all the small message start.he give me email that i have been looking in fake email's and i cant till if they are fake because it is very privet and think it's real but i don't think it is.his profile is Government Army please respond the answer mam Bridget Small i need the answer Please..

Your story shows many signs of a scam.

  1. A person you do not know sends a message.
  2. He uses many kind words. Very soon he wants to marry you. 
  3. He asks you to open a bank account. He asks you to help him transfer money.

If you open a bank account, you tell the bank your name and your social security number. You will be responsible for the account.  

If this is a scam, the man might transfer stolen money into the account. He might ask you to send money to another account. He might ask you to wire the money out of the country. If you do these things, you are helping to commit a crime involving stolen money.  

You could tell him you will not open the account. You can stop sending messages if you don't want to talk.

Thank you so very much :Mam: Bridget Small that's i need it to know about i don't have any experience of any of this.your reply is so helpful to me.i thank you

I don't know which dating site u met this General on, but be aware that I have been sent 2-3 friend requests on Tango with this same name. They continuously keep changing his picture. I have never accepted his friend request. Unfortunately I recently fell victim to a romance scam online. These guys say the most beautiful things n tell u they love adore n want to spend the rest of their lives with you. Please don't buy it. They are scammers that do not care about u whatsoever. They will ask u for money. Most of them pose as widowed engineers with a child. They claim to be successful. What a joke. The name of the person who scammed for a little bit of money is name Patrick Nguyen. Not his real name. They will ask u to open bank accts n give them the username password n Q&As. They will try to transfer money into this acct, with ur name on it, via check. Rubber checks that is. Thank God my bank caught the check which had been altered. I called him out on it. Sure he scammed me for money but in the interim I learned a very valuable lesson. He will get u into serious bank fraud problems.

Jenifer , what site are you on ? I also meet a guy online and he asked me to send the money, I did send and now he is disappeared. His name is Philip Nguyen

Be careful of a man maned Patrick Lara he is a big scammer also. I know of a couple of women he scammed and he sent me a bad check and the bank told me it was a fake check. Be careful. I also met him on a dating site.

Tara, you need to be very careful with the online dating websites.

What about a guy named Sargent Jimmy Gabriel off of Facebook? He is asking for iTunes card?????

i meet one us army also in the net just a month back. he is asking for call card, and when i tell him i will barrow credit card from my friend he told me no.. i dont like you barrow money to a friend bcs of me.and i tot he is real but i start searching so army scam on internet is everywhere so i start doubt now. i ask asking send an email to me with army email add, it has 'mil' last part so now im confuse please hepl if he is real or not

Hi Unsure in texas, I too have come across guys that are asking for I-Tune gift cards. After taking to one guy three weeks later I discover another one. Both asking for the same card. They both claim to be working on an oil rigs in the Golf Of Mexico. I never sent a thing. Their IDs are jimmy scott and Steve Mark. I am now texting with a guy who just this last weekend was relocated to an oil rig in the same place. Like a lot of these men they say they are engineers working for BP( British Petroleum) or another oil company. He romanced me, telling me how much he loved me and yes I was really falling for this guy. Talking about getting married with in a month of emails, texting, and phone calls. He was addressing me to every one as his wife. When I confronted him about it, he said, he was too old to say girlfriend. Just two days ago he asked me for a gift card because he just had to call his daughter and mommy in the UK, every night. I thought that was strange, ever night ? He clams he has no credit care, only a bank card. Any man that travels from the UK to the USA with not addictional credit source is crazy. He also let me know that he had to give up his computer and phone when he boarded the oil rig. But was able to use the platform phone. I do understand the phone, and I did ask around and some off shore rigs do require that you give up your computer. He had asked me to delete my profile not too long after we met, I told him I did. But my big clue as to any problem was when I went back on the dating sight to save all our emails and his profile for future reference. I noticed he had been on the dating sight the day before. It was not the first time I noticed it. I'm wondering now if he wanted me to deactivate my profile just so I never seen him on the dating sight again. It seems that a lot of these men want you to either delete or deactivate your profile soon after communicating with them. I explained to this guy that I don't have the money to buy him a gift care. He asked for a $150.00 electronic gift card. I had to look it up on the internet. I have not heard back from him yet, but it has only been one day. I hate to think of him as a scammer but at the same time I think he is.

I have been in same situation. His name used was duhon donald lee jr. Stated he was sgt in Us army. Widowed with a daughter. Stated wife died when stationed in SA and that his daughter is there in boarding school. Said did not have access to money. Asked if i could send money to nanny sister as she was going there. So stupidly sent money to new york for his daughter birthday.

Than he began asking for bank info. Stated he wanted to make a trasfer from his bank. He tried to get my ss number and acct number. Bank said he only neede swift code number. He transferred money. Bank said it cleared. Than two days later bank wanted money back. Stated dep. Made from stolen checks. He said it must of been an error and he would clear it up.

Please all beware of anyone asking for bank info. His English was very good when texting and no accent when talking on phone. I trusted him and awaited for him to get the bank straightened out. He than asked for more money for his daughter. At this point asked for his military email. He gave me an email with different name. At this point i blocked him.

Hi. My mother is going through a similar experience. She's not sure if the man she is talking to is real... robyn leigh steadman. Her story is almost same as yours, she has sent him a lot of money already, mostly for his daughter who is going to boarding school in Africa (or something like that) she also sent her money for a birthday party. he says he has no family just the family of deceased wife who is supposedly caring for girl while he is working overseas for an oil company as an engineer. When you say SA do you mean San Antonio or something else? Because this man states that he lives in houston but hasnt been home for a while. But I wanted to know if they sent you pictures of the girls party like they did my mom? They sure do make everything seem believable and I just want to protect my mom.

If your mother met someone online, and he is asking her for money, there's a good chance it is a scam.

Scammers often make up stories about their work and families and ask for money for emergenices, or to care for their children. Often the scammer claims he has money, but can't get to it right now because of a problem with his bank or business.

Here are some warning signs that an online love interest might be a fake. They ask you to:

  • chat off of the dating site immediately, using personal email, text, or phone
  • wire money using Western Union or Money Gram
  • set up a new bank account and help them by depositing checks or transferring money

I too have been talking to a man on face book messenger. Promising me the same as all here. This man is Col john Nicholson is asking for money for his daughter in Ghana. He's stationed in Kabul afgistan.

I'm sure this is a scam, his supposedly 15 yr daughter emailed me for money sent Beto her. No money has been sent nor will be. Why would a highly decorated officer risk losing his retirement? Help this needs to stop!po

Gen.John Nicholson is married. He has two grown childern. His daughter is in the military. He does not have a FB page. Your talking to a scammer dear. I know for a fact! Google Gen John. He is in Kabul with the resolute support mission. I bet he told you his wife is alcoholic and has multiple affairs.

This Gen. John Nicholson imposter set me a Skype request. I never accept unknown requests but hit the wrong button by mistake. My first question was why anyone would send a stranger a request.
I googled the General while the imposter answered. I then proceeded to respond to his request to get to know each other while I caught him in lies. Hahahaha! Single father of a 12 yo boy whose mother died in a crash 4 years ago.
I posed my questions in vernacular anyone originally from the US would understand. He, of course stumbled and said he didn't understand upon nearly each of my questions. I had fun and even led him by saying "gosh, I feel SO bad for your motherless child and wish I could do ANYTHING for you but I need to go for now." When he said he'd msg me another time, I said "no, you wont.t I I knew you were not Gen John and just messing around for my amusement. Good luck with whatever your God does to you."
Now just looking for how to report him! Tee hee,

Ladies look out for Captain Samson Daniel. Says he is in Munich and retiring out in Feb 2017. From Cincinnati. Son Elii 14 years old. Mother deaceased. Loved me by second conversation. Led me from Facebook to Hangout
Although his english was pretty good...you could tell english was not his mother tongue. Picture is of handsome soldier 47 ans looking fine.
I knew he was full of ____ almost immediately. The way he talkedngabe him away.
Please beware

Hey do you happen to have pictures still??My cousin is talking to a man almost sounds the same details.

I been dating a man on facebook and we star talk on facebook and he ask me out and we star talk in hangout then he ask me of i could send him money i say yes i will so i send him money though Western union then he ask some more so i dd but this was brfore i knew he was on mititary scammers so i stop send him money 2month ago of jan 2017 and i was send him money from 2015 i take off my hangout and i delelate him off everything i have not text him over 1 month it hurt me alot but i get over him

Wow your moms story sounds identical to mine, the only difference he told me he had no family his wife passed away in a car accident and had a son in boarding school in the UK . And he was an engineer in Dubai LOL.I picked up on what he was up too from the very beginning but I played along with him. He would tell me how much he loved me and hoods God brought us together blah blah blah. just two days ago he tomb me her had received an email from Stanley's teacher telling him he was very sick and needed medical attention and he couldn't leave the ship of course so he needed to borrow money and not to worry he would pay me back as soon as he got off that ship I think he said he had 5 wks left. Ha I asked for the name of the school -no response then he told me he would send me his phone # that never happened,we were chatting on messenger so if he was in Dubai his time would be different then mine of course he didn't know maybe it's in the settings same BS I asked huge much it is that he needed the amount was $1625.00 I simply said I'm sorry I don't work I can't help you out wish I could by the way the name was Ken Ovoke sharp looking man if indeed it was him.I would try to call him on messenger but he couldn't answer the phone was not allowed to ha ha ha we spoke a few more times once again asked if I can help I said no and that was the end of Mr.Ovoke

Omg Is the same guy I'm talking to him he said the same except he is a Dr and work for the UN omg and his son in bording school is Kely and his birthday is soon and he is upset because daddy is not with him he ask me for pictures of me and my son I send him fake one

I think we have the same guy! Heis a doctor that works in the huminatarian service in United nation base in Syria He scammed me thousands of dollars. What is his name? did you use viber with him He is a liar and to not talk to him. I am a nurse and he even does not know terms in medical vocabulary . He told me about his son"s birthday and I have to sent his son 2 i phones in Uk and i have to pay even Uk taxes to pay for his sons i phone . I reported him to FBI today.I hope they catch him.His mame is Wilhelm gerhard Krumwiede do not talk to this guy!

I think we have the same guy.He claimed he is a doctor working for the UN. He was in Syria the first 2 months we corresponded and now he is in Belgium.He Asked me to opened a chase account for him using my name.He told me his son who is in UK boarding school lost his phone and inhaler and need to get a new one.

do you have a picture of him Im talking to a man in Syria with a son in boarding school and he is a doctor

Yes I have a picture of him. To you have one? Let us exchange pictures

Wow this all sounds too familiar. Talked to a guy from Facebook stating that he a general in the armed forces. Said he is in Syria. Has a daughter in boarding school in New york. Sent me pictures and everything. Told me a story about his late wife getting killed in an accident four years ago. His supposedly daughter emailed says she needs $500 to go on a trip to Africa. Her dad can't get to funds because he is in Syria. Wow Says he was an orphan in the UK because his parents died, said he was raised by a priest.

Sounds like the guy I have been talking to. He says he is in Iraq, and he has no way to his money. Son is In Africa and his Credit Card Is not working.. Even though I told him my profession, he still was not getting it. By the way this one goes by the name 'ANTHONY BRANDON"

This sounds like the man I am talking to. He is an geological engineer. I am a geologist, he won't "talk shop" he says it's classified, he's on a military base in Turkey and can't send me photos. I was able to get 5 photos from him. Including a photo of a passport. One of the photos is from the top of a dam near Incirlic AFB. The reasons he is asking for money is due to an work accident and needs to replace equipment. The terminology he is using is incorrect. His name he says is Michael Anthony and lost a wife and son in a car accident 10 years ago. He says he went to highschool in a boarding school. He claims to have spend most of his life in Italy but his accent is not Italian. He says his mother is Hispanic but he can't speak or read Spanish. ( I know because I am Spanish) Not sure what to do about this. I am not wanting to date anyone now. My previous long term relationship was physically abusive and now this? It's hard to believe there are good men out there anymore.

Pogi wowo, your story is exactly same as mine. Please send me address to report this to FBI. Thank you!

Pogi wowo, did the FBI caught this criminal? I want to know, please because I lost a lot of money dealing with this scammers. Their stories really sounds legitimate. Thank you

is anybody ever chat to a guy name eric oslon ,american guy from oslo ,norway

Sounds familiar but not exact. My scammer sent me a message from Match. Dylan Carson claimed he is originally from Austin, Texas but lived in Sydney Australia for the past 15 year with his daughter Ruby after the passing of his beloved Sue who died in a car crash while 3 month pregnant. He claimed he moved to Kitchner, Ontario, Canada while his daughter moved to Texas with his parents to attend university. Says he is a technical engineer with Estisilat in Dubai and travels constantly for work. He said he just got back from Dorset in UK and will have to go back in to complete the job. Long story short and too many facets to this story, I wired him over $300K and never got back a penny. I lost my house and all my savings and trying to build back my life. I never met him, but I will leave him in the hands of the good Lord!

I know how you feel. I was scammed by a guy Wilhelm Gerhard Krumwiede They have different stories some times the same person. All of them are liars. Ireported him to FBI already and to the police . This person is in the USA but use the address of foreign Countries. Maybe if you can share his pictures to me we might have the same guy. He uses Wells fargo and Bank of America so i have all the records of the transactions and the address of his contact here in the US maybe the police can raid that house and maybe the police can catch them.

I am writing for 8 months with a doctor who works for UN in Syria an his so. Is in Norway in school his name is Dr Michael Wooden don't know know if he is the same person.

I've been talking to a stunning looking young woman I met online. She said she was a student working on a project with WHO and got stranded in Nigeria. She needed money to get out and continued to say things like the money she had was stolen or the money was scammed from her. Her name is Elizabeth (Betty) Pugh.

OMG! This happened to me too! Thank you for posting this.

I met him on lavalife.com He claimed to be an engineer and had to go to Texas to work on securing a contract. He gets the contract but it is to work on a rig in Alaska so now it would be 6 more weeks before we could meet. Said he was widowed his wife and son died in a car accident. Said he just moved to Canada two months ago but has a 213 area code? He has a problem at the rig in Alaska, one of his vital team members trying to get cell service fell and had to go to hospital. He is in serious condition. Now Charles Jason does not know what to do...He asks me to send an email to another engineer to come and help him at the site. I had to do the email as he said there was no internet...he could only text. I email this engineer Stevens Green and he replies very quickly stating he just finished a job in Dubai but wont go to the site until payment is secured. Charles texted me to ask if I could send Stevens 20 thousand US dollars so he could come to help on the rig. That is the last conversation I had with him. I said NO. since then I have blocked him from my email and cell phone. I reported this to the police and every on line site I can He is so very convincing and smooth like all the others I am sure. Claimed he loved me, wanted to marry me etc etc I have also reported to yahoo his and his buddy's email address. He also goes by the name James Candam He only went by Charles Jason with me. His accent does not suit his picture. Ladies be aware!!! He is so damn good at making you fall for him says everything you want to hear and more. I am trying to find out who the person is in the picture he uses on facebook, lavalife and the ones he sent to my email. Does anyone know how I can contact the poor guy who's picture is being used?

Sounds like someone who was trying to scam me. We emailed, did google.hangouts,etc After 1 month, he was professing his love for me, etc. He was an oil geologist, whose wife had died 6 years earlier from ovarian cancer. Said he was deeply religious (Catholic) and had a daughter going to college in Leeds, England. He, too, took a 6 week contractor job in the Baltic Sea. His drill broke and he told me he had already purchased one in PA, but could I pay for the shipping fee of $1500. He had locked his accounts while he was out of the country and the bank wouldn't let him unlock his account unless he was physically there. Started smelling a scam. I told him I couldn't afford the $1500, then he said his daughter could come up with $500, could I do the $1000. He wanted me to give the money on a gmail account with no other information on it. I called the company who supposedly had the drill and gave him the invoice numbers. The owner said not to give him any money because that same scam had been played about 2 years earlier. I went along with the scam - wanted him to give permission for me to contact the airline that he flew over on (airline would not release a yes he was on that flight or no he wasn't - have to protect the scammer). He refused to give permission - I didn't trust him. Told him I would give him the 1000 if he would give the permission - he still wouldn't. Unfortunately, before all this had occurred, I sent him 2 nude headless photos of myself at his request (hey, we were in love). Now he is threatening me that if I don't give him $300 (for the cost of him sending me roses ) he will put those photos the internet. But once I pay, what will stop him from coming back over and over again requesting more money. I have alerted Facebook and google over this scam. I have one week reprieve until he goes public with the photos (told him I needed to wait until I get paid).
His name he uses is Mark Ferguson, also goes by Mark Roberts, originally from Edinburgh, but now in San Jose, CA. He is very good looking and writes exceptionally well. What a con artist. He also uses Facebook, but has either blocked me from seeing his profile (so I couldn't post that he is a scam artist) or he has stopped using Facebook. Who knows what he really looks like because I'm sure he hacked into another guy's Facebook account. I guess it's the live and learn. You can bet that I will never correspond with another unknown person from the internet wanting to be my friend.

We are definately talking to the same guy. Did he send you a picture of a passport. He says his name is Michael Anthony and he's a geological engineer. He is reluctant to talk about the drill operations because I am a geologist and I have worked in the petroleum industry. His terminology for the equipment is incorrect. He says he is in Turkey on a military base. One of his photos is atop a dam near Incirilic AFB. He needs over 6k to replace a stake-bed tow truck (he calls it a tow rig wich is not correct a rig is a drill vehicle that looks similar to a big truck with a drill machine on it.) the type of work he would be doing would not utilize a rig unless it was being done incorrectly. Additionally if there was an accident the insurance would immediately replace the equipment within hours. I know because I had this happen to one of my projects unfortunately. I told him I would not give him cash but when he returned to the states we could incorporate and I would handle the insurance so this did not happen again. He hasn't answered. That was April 24, 2017.

This past week a Robert Clinton tried to scam me using a military photo (good looking) said his mom was from Edin. - that he was born in San Jose CA. Birthday (supposedly) Sept 29 1981 --I have screenshots and lots of saved messages before his Tinder account disappeared. We moved to Google hangout. In a matter of a day he was professing deep love for me and wanting to have children with me. I was terrified! I knew he couldn't possibly be deployed in Afghanistan. It's sickening what these people do for iTunes cards! That guy whose picture he used might be a fallen hero- or just swiped from a random account. I sent him a photo of a used iTunes card ;)
I wonder if he used the same pictures with other people too.

A scammer named Steiner V Derek got hold of my sister on another dating site. Had her give him her bank account info and send $100 to Africa and $50 to Canada. He sent her a cheap ring. I found him on facebook and got him to add me and sure enough all thr scammer warnings shot up several red flags. He wanted to send me a ring, he loved me, his wife was cheating on him (later on he said she had died). They had two sons ages 21 (later said 19) and 10. She had the older son and he had the younger son and was bringing him with him. He said he grew up in Africa, his dad was a missionary and had a life savings that he needed help in retrieving. I actually went as far as emailing the email address he gave me so I could see what would be said. Funny how the replys to my email came in less than 5 minutes. I could tell right off it was a scam. Wanted $1500 delivery fee for 900,000 dollars. I emailed back and said i didnt have the much only maybe a third of that. Got another reply from them stating i could do that but they still wanted the remainder. They had a name in the email (suppose to be scammers dads name) Timmy Anderson. He begged and pleaded for me to go get the moneygram. He took another mans pictures to use and when he posted one of them it had the letters "chaelAZ" in the lower right hand corner. I then searched the internet and came to youtube, instagram and the picta to a man named Michael Rosenberger who looked very happily married with two adorable boys and lived in Arizona. He had told my sister and I that he was living in New York, mind you that was where Mr. Rosenberger is from. He gave us an New York phone number. Constantly calling, texting and pm'ming. Laying the "I love you baby" "dear" "honey" words on thick. His profile had alot of likes by foreign people in Ghana/Accra and so did the groups he was a member of. T=Most likely this man has several fake profiles. Just remember ladies, anytime a stranger says he loves you right off the bat and wants you to send him money YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED. BE SMART DELETE AND BLOCK!!

I too was corresponding with a UN MD working in Syria, fled to Turkey. Requested I put what's app on my tablet. Called several times. Then called from the "Bush" requesting money, his credit card wouldn't work! Immediately took off the app on my tablet and deleted him from Facebook.

I'm in it almost as bad as you. I feel alone and like no one in our government cares. We have so much information on these men that the ic3, ftc, FBI could use to catch them. But they don't want our information and say our crime is too small to spend the resources.
I'm out over. $100,000 but worst is I lost my reputation. I can no longer get a bank account, a credit card or any type of credit.
These men are a huge international group with people all over the world. I have information, pics, addresses, but no one wants that. Because these men are not going to be punished!
How can someone steal your life and you have no rights. All I want back is my name and credibility. Is that too much to ask for??

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