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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

A woman looking at a dating site on her computer.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

July 02, 2018

In reply to by cubsbballgirl

I have one trying to scam me now. Name is Ralph Williams claiming to be a military intelligence officer on assignment with the army in Dallas Texas. Ex-wife cheated on him. Mom and dad are deceased and his brother that was also in the army was shot and killed. Told me he loved me 3 days after we started talking. Claims his phone was reset or something and he lost all photos of his 10 year old daughter.
Playing the game
August 20, 2018

In reply to by Sweetnie

I knew immediately that this was "one of those scams". I tried to be nice. The interest came via Instagram. I changed my mind and decided to go with it. I have been online dating for less than a year and real live, deceitful men have broken my heart with their player mentalities. The best way to get over one is to be distracted by another. I decided to play along with "Michael" to get over the last loser. It is serving its purpose, but these men are good. They give us what the real and available men don't . They are kind and sweet and loving and respectful. Right up until the time they ask for something. I am using him to remind myself that I am worthy of being respected and treasured and following his lead to talk nicely to myself. WIN
August 26, 2018

In reply to by Playing the game

Hello. Is your Michael s last name Smith and he is sergeant currently in Ukraine?
Don't use your…
November 22, 2019

In reply to by Playing the game

Is this Michael's last Name Purcell? If so RUN the other way...big time scammer
I’m probably next
May 09, 2018

In reply to by TotallyTakenForARide

Did this happened to be a white male in his 40’s who is in the Army but working in Aleppo, Syria?
May 22, 2018

In reply to by I’m probably next

Is his name Keith Williams. His profile says cooper?..Tall body build and his profile picture with shades on?.Dark hair. Telling you I love you..and saying things like angel.
July 03, 2018

In reply to by Kimo

I think I was talking to him too..but he was going by Tiller Cooper..said he loved ask me to marry him..we talked 3 times on the phone..said he was a sergeant in the with a 7 yr old daughter...he got me for almost 500 in itunes cards..I loved him ..when I called it off and called him a scammer..we didn't talk for 2 weeks..then I got a email from his "friend" Michael says tiller had committed suicide..
Don'the use yo…
December 12, 2018

In reply to by Ckhall73

ive been talking to phil gray savannah ga sergeant us army kabul 41 daughter 7 turned 8 in October 15th his birthday 3rd oct asked about bitcoin investment to.stock coins then i said no but opened a wallet up gave him logon details came up with ip address lagos Nigeria then o changed the details told him id been hacked did not trust him now he's been hot and cold with but since i sent an itunes card only small value he rang his daughter he said he need one to ring us both but would need more value to do that unsure if he's real deal not asking for bank details as not that stupid but unsure what to think as says hardly any internet as now offshore and can't get to shop to buy a card as unsafe due to taliban...
January 17, 2019

In reply to by Don'the use yo…

Alex Santiago ihe calls himself is the guy and his accomplice Sylvia operating from Califonia. He supposed to be contracted on an oil rig in Norway. Pictures he uses are a nice looking fair haired guy middle aged, he has a daughter Rose and he is a widow. I fell for his sweet mouth and have lost 5k, he asked for anothet 35k so the fake company could send a box being shipped to me which I refused to pay. I realised i was being scammed. I must say he is a very good actor, i just want to smash his face.
me too
June 17, 2018

In reply to by I’m probably next

i have a man from aleppo saying he’s going to damascus and needs to send me his items?
July 10, 2018

In reply to by me too

I am looking into a “military man” who randomly found my cousin on FB and says things are dangerous over there and he wants to send her his personal belongings but now he wants her to send $2,800 to an overseas shipping company in order to get the box! This just gives me a bad feeling but I cannot convince her.
Knew better wa…
July 12, 2018

In reply to by Cole

Yes I was scammed by somebody who was over in Syria with the Army intelligence and he needed to send his items to me because I was the only one he trusted all of his family was deceased and I needed to pay money to help ship it to me through a shipping company trim Courier. I have pics if you want to share.
August 23, 2018

In reply to by Knew better wa…

Did his picture have picture of him in khakis with beretta. And God Bless these hands? Have been talking to for year. Calls me my queen. Baby. Got about $6000
March 19, 2019

In reply to by Maggie

What he used apex security company? Can any one help me. He gave me website www. apexsecuritycompany. com. is this website real? He said he wanna send this all package to me because comapy about to sale and they wanna someone take in charge of it. I already paid so many money. I am really feel so bad. How I am come out. I wanted to know what he is scammer? Plz any one help me. He still told me he is real and come for me.
August 07, 2018

In reply to by Cole

Sounds so familiar. I had a similar situation in July, army guy,shipping company and then ask for money. Scammer...
October 10, 2018

In reply to by Isabella

Had the same story. His name was Rosario, Gabriel, Santos. Srgt in the army, deployed in Syria. He was from US. Wife cheated on him and he won costudy of his daughter. With a shipping company Sapphire express. I think they are a group. He had a fb account, but i reported him, so he is no longer on fb. He sent me the details and his red cross agent start texting me. I sent him 2000$. After sending him the money he vanish into thin air. But the shipping agency was still sending me messages that the money was not enough. When i didnt hear from him again i start chatting with the so called red cross agent and he told me that he was forced to do so, but it was all a scam. Even the redcross agent was a scammer. Because he told me, they are very poor and trying to make a living. He show me his face. Ladies..this was my first time and i have learned. So you all should be very carefull, because these ppl are very smart, wicked and dangerous to. After that i was still talking to some of them. Names like...Robert Ivan..millitary surgeon in syria, Avalos Rodrigeuz...state navy chief told me he wants to visit me, but he have to pay 1000$ for the ticket and i have to help him sent 3000$. But im smart now. When i said i dont have the money, because never in my life have i paid that amounth for a ticket, he got angry, so i just blocked him. Marc Nicholaas from Texas, he didnt had a phone, so i had to buy him a new one and buy him some Itunes cards from Amazon. Just blocked that one also. Another one Im now playing with them. Joel Romeo, James Carter, Benjamin Jackson, was asking to buy him phonecards to call me worth 4000$. But onces is enough for me. They cant get anything from me again. As soon as they start asking for something, i am blocking them directly. So my ladies out there, dont get scammed. Because there are real men all over the world also looking for a real woman.
October 16, 2018

In reply to by Cole

@Cole I may know him.his name is James who wants to send me his box and keep it.I'm having bad feeling. he lives in Afghanistan,and his son lives in UK(boarding house school in London). he lost his wife 5 years ago. He said to me he is 40 years old,but he looks like more and over. here is the his message. Honey I'm at the hospital I had to beg one of the doctor here to make use of his computer The doctor is a close friend of mine. So honey I won't be spending much time on here I just have an important thing to tell you Honey the purpose of the meeting,was to inform us about an urgent changes When I was in syria for a special mission,I was made the head of the team,and I had 15 subordinate to me After the succeslul completion of the mission, They then compensated me with a huge some of money And due to the fact that I had no family member that could help me hold the money until my arrival,My wife she is late My kids are still very little And for myself You know about my story I'm an orphan Honey the security company in Syria where I have my goods in there custody,wants me to come claim my stuff that I have with them in a short period of time They said they are relocating,due to the rate of the attack of the isis. Honey please you're the only one that I have,and also my kids Please I want you to help me receive this box,and keep it for me until my arrival When the money gets to you,you can take 30% from it and keep the rest until I come I have$2.5 million in that box And you know I'm far from the box The shipping company will be the one to send it to you Honey you know I won't be able to text always This is not my personal computer And also know that I have some pieces of Gold inside the box But do not let it known to anyone,that I have golds inside,not even the shipping company Okay? All I need is just your email address so that the delivery company can message you.
December 06, 2018

In reply to by mipple

Dr Wayne gano engineer surgeon in Syria want to send his box to me paid$2,000 got email want a further $2,000, very attractive looking wife cheated on him two yes ago 12 Yr old daughter in boarding school in US
Knew better wa…
July 12, 2018

In reply to by me too

I met someone on June 2nd 2018 who profess to be with the intelligent unit with the Army in Damascus serious. His parents and brother died when he was 5 years old and at some point in communication he needed to send his items because it was no longer safe there to me for safekeeping. When's the items arrived in the UK all of a sudden I was asked to pay for various things like a seal of protection for transportation or certification because they had not been claimed prior to sending them. I would love to share pictures.
July 18, 2018

In reply to by Knew better wa…

Please send photos: a friend nearly lost her house because of a similar scam. I must convince her he’s not on the level:
July 26, 2018

In reply to by Knew better wa…

Can you send his picture ....sounds very similar
July 20, 2018

In reply to by I’m probably next

Omg. I’m talkig to him now. He claims his name is Ronnie Mark. He looked me up on Instagram theee days ago. I was puzzled because he asked me to talk oh google hangout. I gave him a chance. He seems nice and all, but aowhror didn’t as up and he would take a long time to reply a simple answer. His English is good, but not perfect. I asked him about his job — I’ll copy and paste for everyone to see; Am from Irving Texas but currently now am working as a civilian orthopedic surgeon doctor working for the united states military service in Aleppo Syria. He is mysterious. He said for me to ask anything. He said he has living in Mexico with his aunt and that ha wife died giving birth to his second child! He sent me one picture of home and his son. He claims it was last year. But I saw 2018 on the kids camouflaged camping outfit! He said he has been in Ayeia for about a 1 1/2 years! He told me last night that he loves me and that I’m unique and rare and that he wants tomarey me. He said he sent my photo to his son on hangout — Herea what he said to me: I just sent your pix to my son on hangout and he asked if I was going to marry you and I said only God knows best but right in my heart the answer was clearly yes I will marry her. I told him I don’t believe in cyber dating and that I think it’s iimpossoble for me or anyone who’s realistic to fall like that. I also said I’m flattered but thank you. Btw; I have been researching this joker for hours and got nothing except one thing; he has a profile on Facebook! Yes, ladies! You want to see this joker? Type Dr. Ronnie Mark. He claims in the About Me area that he is from: (Drums!) New Germany, Kwazulu-Natal South Africa! He has recently posted three photos os “himself” same face as for instagram. Now, how’s it it possible to be in two countries at the same time? I haven’t asked him or confronted him yet. I am going to do contact the law and advise Facebook/instagram soon. Ladies, he fooled me for theee days. I’m inquisitive as hell. And I got my answers. He has been trying to be close to me, I refuse to be another money scammer. He had me going for only a few hours and then I went to work. I have checked with the military, civilian contractor companies overseas, contacted a federal agent to help me and even a good friend in South Africa. First and last time! I have a ton of details but I cannot go ok. Omg. It’s such BS!!!
I wanted to believe
June 04, 2018

In reply to by TotallyTakenForARide

Do you mind me asking what the person on Instagram asked you to do? Did they he say he needed you to send money to get something sent to you that he needed you to keep safe for him? And that you are the only person that he could trust?
December 06, 2018

In reply to by I wanted to believe

Same here Dr Wayne Dylan Gano Dr in the American army based in syria
June 19, 2019

In reply to by I wanted to believe

I have a man called dr James Collins asked me to keep a box of his life savings I'm only persi On he trusts and his wife died and has a son in South Africa boarding school owns a ranch in Texas he wanted me to pay 1800 but I didt to a Gms logistics company in Dubai
June 13, 2018

In reply to by TotallyTakenForARide

I too was taken in this evening. I am totally crushed. There were red flags and I should have listened. So heartbroken as I have been so hesitant to put my heart and trust out there. He contacted me out of the blue and was charming. This totally sucks.
June 19, 2019

In reply to by suzlef5

I'm currently talking with a guy who says he is Chris Robert. He challenged me on words with friends. He began by telling me all about himself. Then began asking me to do the same. We've been talking now for about 2 months. Claims he's on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. 68 years old, engineer/ contractor. Says this job is worth 16 million. Will be retiring when job is completed. Is looking to settle down with the woman of his dreams. Has a home in Houston, Tx. Has 18 yr old daughter in boarding school in Miami, Fla. Her name is Elizabeth, she is his heart. Wife passed away 6 yrs ago from a brain tumor. He told me my picture was what attracted him to me, and that I was beautiful. Constantly professing his love to me. Sending sweet poems, you tube videos and love songs, etc. Has sent me a huge white teddy bear and a very nice ring. Had explosion on the rig of drilling machine. Needed money for oil to get the machine running again to complete the job. Sent video of explosion, crew members, even one that was injured during explosion. I sent money. Once the oil got there, the machine wouldn't start. Technician says engine gone. Needs new one. Very expensive, somewhere around 250,000 or so. But, can rent one from China for 1 week for 90,000. Only needs 500 barrels of crude oil left to drill to complete the contract. Now begging for more money, anything he can get to use to bargain to get the machine to finish the job! Continues to profess love, says when he gets off the rig he's coming here to me so we can be together. We will never want for nothing will build new home, with backyard pool, travel all over the world, etc. He went from needing 50,000 down to whatever I could come up with. This guy wants phone sex every night. Has sent pictures of him, his daughter, his crew, oil rig. He got sick, was out for several hours. I was contacted by one of his coworkers, who sent pics of him lyeing on the floor, and them putting oxygen mask on him. This guy told me that all he was saying g was my name, over and over. Then a few hours later he text me to tell me that he didn't care if Chris lived or died, all he wanted was his money, and that Chris was keeping them there until contract job was completed. That they needed the machine running to complete the job. Then he calls me again and hands his phone to Chris. He had become coherent enough to talk. His voice was very weak. He begged me to help him get the machine fixed. He said he wanted off that rig, he was very frustrated and depressed. Blood pressure very high, not eating, etc. He just wanted to complete the job so he could come home to me. If I couldn't help him, then he had nothing else to live for. Claims God brought us together, that's the way it should be. Quotes Bible scriptures to me. I've been sending him Bible quotes every single day. He stole my heart, but I just can't believe its for real. So, I decided I was going to string him along as he has me. I can play his game for as long as he does. But I am NOT sending him anymore money. I've told him I don't have it. He's even asked me to take out a loan in order to help him, and he will pay me back triple. Lol It is very hurtful for someone to reel you in, then find out the relationship was built on you sending him money!! He caught me in a very vulnerable time in my life. So, now I'm giving it right back to him!
December 13, 2019

In reply to by Weezy

Do you have a picture? I think I may be talking to the same man named Harry Lund on Instagram
April 22, 2020

In reply to by CBLB2012

Sounds like the guy reaching out to me, his name is James Cardwell. If you go under Oil rig scammers photo's you will be shocked. Uses other names to as Michael Miles,Michael Smith, Roland Smith & Richard Terry.
August 18, 2018

In reply to by TotallyTakenForARide

You are not a loser, if anything he is the loser because he lost out on having someone wonderful in his life.I went through the same thing after coming from a very bad abusive relationship I just wanted companionship. I met John Castellanos on Instagram and his pics seemed geniune and he even seemed geniune. He quickly began sweet talking and check on me everyday . After about two weeks he tried to get me to sign for a courier package, I refused, then a couple of days later he tried to get me to buy 3 $100 Itune cards. I refused after back forth fussing I blocked him on Instagram. And phone calls. They are jerks bit the way to get them is in thier pockets and not fall for the scams .
June 16, 2018

In reply to by 3goldkats

I have read everyone's stories and I too was scammed. It broke my heart. He says his name is steve gallagher, is a satellite engineer, lives in garland, texas, but is on a job in the Netherlands. We have been texting and talking on the phone for nine months. He said he wanted to pay off my 2 biggest credit cards. He professed his love, etc., and at first I told him no I didn't want him to pay off my cards but he was insistent so I finally let him. Afterwards he asked me to send him a cash advance from one of the cards, which I did because he paid it off. Then he paid it off a second time and asked me to do the same thing again which I did. Then he started asking me to send him iTunes cards which I did because he paid off the other card. To make a long story short, all of his payments were returned and I ended up holding the bag for over $40,000. I have no one to blame but myself for being so gullible. I met him on the dating site Our Time. He said everything I guess I wanted to hear. It breaks my heart to know that from the very beginning he never meant a word that came out of his mouth. I tried looking him up to no avail. I reported him to the FTC and got no response. We do all need to band together some how to find a way to stop these people. My credit is ruined and I have to pay all of this money back.
November 27, 2018

In reply to by 49gallegos

Hi. I think I was just scammed by someone with the same story. They claimed to be named Lucas. He paid off one card. I won’t buy the iTunes cards and I cancelled that account. Now I’m wondering how long did it take for bus payment to bounce?
August 22, 2019

In reply to by 49gallegos

I was talking to this guy up till today Phone number was from fl. Says not active. I have s list of relatives and places they live but can’t find any number belonged to a realitive
July 23, 2018

In reply to by 3goldkats

I may have been taken by the same guy!! Oil rig, retiring so we can travel the world, feel like such a fool and yes, I too fell madly in love with this man!! I’m so heartbroken and miss him constantly! Do you have photos by chance?
November 12, 2018

In reply to by Theoigeeky

Sounds like a guy that I just got rid of. Never asked for money but I have only known him a week. On an oil rig, wife dead, he is French, and retiring in two weeks and wants to travel with me. Spoke excellent English and was very sweet. No talk about being in love only that we should take it slow. I feel I dodged a bullet! Could be same guy as yours . I also met him on Our Time.
Missed informed
August 13, 2018

In reply to by 3goldkats

Hello I think I have went through the same thing this guy name is Williams Anderson he says he's a supervisor on a pipeline ship that they laid pipes in the water and he's the supervisor he has crew okay when we first started talking it was in April when he messaged me on my inbox on Facebook he was on Facebook but he took it down when I start asking him a lot of questions the conversation started good and he claimed how much he loves me and I told him that I haven't even met him how can he establish that but anyway I was at a Walmart store and he message me in my inbox which now he's not on messenger anymore he's on Hangout well he asked me to get him some iTune cards for him and his daughter his daughter is in boarding school in Texas and he calls her Jane well I did and I took pictures of the card and send it to him then he asked for some money $750 to help feed his crew because his credit card was frozen I said no I wasn't going to do that I did send them a couple of iTune cards then he got selfish and mad because I I wouldn't give him my credit card number I told him that I will get a prepaid card and he can put whatever he want on that he said no he needed a credit card so I told him look let's forget about this you forget about me I forget about you don't contact me anymore and then he continue to contact me he slow down with asking for money and credit card but he still ask for iTune cards do anyone out there have the same similar story that I have I just want to know is this Williams Anderson is for real he has send me lots of pictures but I don't think that's him
Why me
July 23, 2020

In reply to by Missed informed

Di you have any pictures? I think this guyis trying to scam me right now too .. madly in love, has 2 daughters, credit card won't work etc.
August 21, 2018

In reply to by 3goldkats

Hi. I have similar experiences with everyone else on this site. I met someone on the dating site POF. We have not met but he claims I am his soulmate and he is in love with me. He is musculin, blond hair, and blue eyes. He claims to be from Sweden and an architect, 58 years old. He is in Turkey on a project. I cannot find any background from him. I have paid the background check websites but there is nothing about him. So far he has not asked for money but claimed to have an accident and lost his wallet in Turkey. His name is William David. Please let me know if you know anyone similar to mine.
November 25, 2019

In reply to by LM

Sounds like a man I met named Thomas. Swedish engineer working in Turkey. Needs money to finish his project. Gets more complicated and constantly needs money.
May 08, 2018

In reply to by Debbie

Andersonwills647, Is a total scammer he said as your story Nancy, he was a widow 8 yrs and worked on the Thunder Horse oil rig 150 miles off shore of Louisiana and he is a contractor making 200 grand every 4 months hes on this rig. Last night he contacted me wanting 7 thousand dollars for his daughter who has a bad head injury from someone hit and run with a truck. He said the hospital wouldn't treat his 14 years old daughter who is dying unless he sent them the 7 thousand dollars. He was also a charmer and called me everyday said he was from Spain been in the US sense he was 10 only child. Well it was fun while it lasted sad these men are doing this. Another one is Ralphlol real name is Rafael Eldridge only truth he told yes his wife is dead. Instagram should have something to stop this..
June 08, 2018

In reply to by Debbie

for someone who hasnt met or known u for 2 years in real life avoid any excess sharing of money that you will regret later play but always try your best to be safe! ;)

April 13, 2018

In reply to by Nancy

Omg i really hope this is not true for my besties sake but she has been talking to a man on Hangout that sounds like the one you were scammed by I knew something was wrong from the beginning he has already asked for her bank account to send money and she sent him an Itune card he's done told her twice he would be coming home but again another lie this scammers name is Kelvin Teddy and he's on Hangout and he works in the OCS oil drilling if this man is as fake as I know he is how can I find out I have been looking everywhere online

April 23, 2018

In reply to by Cherylw

My SIL is getting badly scammed by a guy going as Honest Rayone. He told her he changed his first name from Gary to Honest. His Gary persona I found elsewhere says he's a widow; as Honest he's in process of getting a divorce and has two daughters. He too is on an oil rig, this time in Ireland. Claims to be from either Paris, France or Flint, Michigan. His profile pic is one of motivational speaker Grant Cardone. This is an evolving situation but I think she has given him a lot of money already.
May 01, 2018

In reply to by Allie

I'm pretty sure I know who it is can you give me more information