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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.

 

 

1,326 Comments


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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.

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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.

Donkarherive't…
October 31, 2020

In reply to by NitaPLynn

I've found it very strange that a lot of these guys use two first names. The one I'm talking to now is Thomas Daniel. Told him at the beginning, don't ever ask me for money. Now after 4 weeks he needs $3,000 with a story that's too bizarre to go into. Tomorrow I will tell him I've exhausted every Avenue to get the money. No luck with tineye.
maybaidiango1
June 15, 2020

In reply to by peaches212

Hi I am May Valencia,now I cannot sleep bcus of that scammer military,I read ur message almost same that they are doing to me, now they are block mailing me,I need anyone help now,now they will use my ID to make problems to me,they want to send box to me inside of it money he told me worth 115000 dollars, when I know the amount I said I cannot accept it big amount he want me to send to his bank account,he told me he is working U.S military in Afghanistan,now they are asking me money 700bd for shipping,and now they are black mailing me if I will not send money they will show my identity ID to the police .. .now I’m to much worried.. .plsss I need help.. .
FTC Staff
June 15, 2020

In reply to by maybaidiango1

This sounds like a scam. If they say you must pay to accept a package, but it is not your package, and you did not order the package, it is usually a scam. They might pretend to be a "Customs Official" or say they will call the police. You can stop talking to the scammers. They want to scare you and take your money. You can block a scammer and ignore him. 

hotlikeme
May 29, 2020

In reply to by peaches212

OMG I have the same situation as well, but it's not the same guy... The guy I am chatting was Chris Leung, claims his wife died from cancer and has two kids and a nanny is watching him while he is on a special mission in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is really sweet and talked on Instagram for a while then he told me to go and download the app Hangouts and I did. We talked for three weeks. Soon he asked me to marry him and I told him not yet we haven't met each other and slow down. He kept convincing me so then I agreed to him. Then he said I would have to write a letter to UN for an emergency leave which I also did, and UN replied back saying that I need to choose the months of duration that I choose for him to stay with me and pay for the fee. I choose 3 months and paid over $2,000 and then after they have confirmed the payment that I sent to them. After a day or two I received another email from UN saying there is another fee of $12,450 for his flight and expenses. I was shocked then I contacted him through Hangouts and told him the situation. Then he was like I can't access my accounts here and just trust him saying all these things to me. But then I have relatives that serves in the Army too so I had asked them questions about my situation. They told everything that they can do and can't do. I am currently still chatting with me and he keeps telling me to trust him, which I don't anymore because my cousins they all told me already too. What should I do???
Michelle
June 01, 2020

In reply to by hotlikeme

I would block him and delete the app The sooner you do it the better I am trying to find out the identification of my scammer just for my own curiosity , I am not going to do anything with the information I find out. I still have my app with our conversations .I did an image search and found the person he is using the pictures saying its him He wants steam cards. Military personal do have access to their money
Janetboutcher
July 09, 2020

In reply to by Michelle

This commit re Michael,Beckons he has tried to scam me we meet on another date site he says he is a qualified oil fixer he is in Afghanistan very calming very romantic I feel in love with he says he needs a vocation and am then he demands via his Agent at the finger is £261 he trys to manipulate you please beware he says he has a son aged 31 and that his wife has passed away around five years ago please dont give him anything. Janet
Nat4
November 18, 2020

In reply to by Michelle

How do you do an image search? I think Im being scammed by a guy as well. Although he's in Military and stationes in Arkansas, he cant go live on am apparently. Ive talked ro him several timea and doesnt sound American. He's only asked me to send a gift card bc apparently he's broke til next pay. Honestly I dont care gor the $25.. but want to know if hes a scamner.
Shadow0216
June 02, 2020

In reply to by hotlikeme

I have a friend that met a guy in Instagram, he goes by the name Wu_jongwilliams, he told her to download an app call hangout so he can text her thru there he’s name in that account is Wu jong Costa. He told her the same story that he’s deploy in Syria on a mission, that he’s wife die 3 yrs from cancer and he’s parents are dead and that he has no siblings, but he has a 5 yr old son that’s currently on the army academy under the care of the government cuz he have no one to take care of the child. they been txting almost a month in a half. He said he loves her and he will want to married her. She told him she’s pregnant by another guy that left her and he reply to her that he will be responsible for her and the unborn child so, he ask her to write a emergency paternity leave letter which she did, and had to chose from 3 options to pay for “A replacement soldier expenses to replace him on the mission” She chose option A which is $2000 to cover him for 4 moths leave, she did wireless the money thru her bank. Now she’s currently working on stopping the transaction. Your story sound similar to her it sounds to good to be true. I hope it’s not too late and you do get your money back.
VivianChau
October 05, 2020

In reply to by hotlikeme

don't trust him, its obviously a scammer. Sounds like a guy I met
CMFlesher78
October 31, 2020

In reply to by hotlikeme

Could you please send me the Pictures he sent you? I have a feeling I'm talking with the same Guy.
Denise D.
June 10, 2020

In reply to by peaches212

Yes , I am going through the same deal. Kabul Afghanistan and says he is a staff sergeant named George Matthew Smith. He’s taken me for 1000$ I m upset but it could be worse as I have read. I m going to the police tomorrow. I m very hurt and disappointed in myself. I got caught up talking to him while being in lock down from covid. I believed in him totally.
Nancyb
December 14, 2020

In reply to by Denise D.

Don't beat yourself up about this... I feel the same, about myself... Take it as a life lesson learned, & know that you deserve, & will meet someone better, who's real, & the love is mutual... Learn to love, & accept yourself, & put yourself, & your needs first, always, over any man... Don't give anyone that power over you... Don't settle for someone who doesn't treat u right...
Patty Cake
July 12, 2020

In reply to by peaches212

Yes. I have been in the same situation, except that I’ve wired very large amounts over and over and gotten nowhere. I need to know how to retrieve everything. This guy I’ve finally did a google image search and he’s gone by a different name from his UN claimed you be doctor. Even in LinkedIn! He lost his wife, parents, has a 10years old son living in Italy cared for by a friend, his residence is in Finland, he’s currently in Valenzuela serving as a medical doctor. Requested me to send an e-mail for his Leave. The consultant sent me an e-mail from some kind of a cruise site and called it private as they cannot use anything that ties directly to the UN. He said he can’t touch funds while in there and the consultant will wire me his vacation money once he gets approval for leave and that he actually leaves...guess what? Now there’s this Covid-19 that requires a cost for a private jet. Thereafter, a request for more funds to cover his medical clearance. What a downfall for me...it’s been 11 months and he’s promised he exits this July 2020. I asked him why all of these process as what has he been doing before he’s met me? He’s speechless, and of course claimed that he’s never had to go through this process before. The consultant claims there’s a new head that had fined him for insubordination but will not identify. I am out of money...hurt, looking for someone to truly help me with filing or prosecute these people. Please please someone....
liddies68
August 06, 2020

In reply to by Patty Cake

Omg I thought i was the only person being scammed . I too over nover believed this man ..In fact since October 2019 . I helped him with his passport pd the tax cuz he said he needed to pay to leave Canada .I did all that And i cant blame this COVID .. Its me . I dont know how much ive sent and its really embarresing to talk to anyone about this .. But I did report him to the FTC ..I have his ssn passport number n name ..They have told me it probably is fake. . I have had sleepless nites tell him he has no heart is just interested in my money .. I just like him decided to tell him lies too ..I told him I have no more and if he continues I will block him ..He has said he will always find me n i believe hes a dangerous mind . Please if anything ? Dont live with the stress. . stress can kill ..Contact the FTC COMMISSION and anything u know report him ...asap Good luck n stay safe No man is worth are money .. Say no more n live with peace
Misob333
September 22, 2020

In reply to by peaches212

OMG! Was his name Jonathan? This is identical to what I am going through.
Turbo
October 02, 2020

In reply to by peaches212

yes im at the 3k mark pilot syria. Has son in military school. I'd love to swap photos with you and compare
Alba
November 12, 2020

In reply to by peaches212

I think I'm in a similar situation. Falling victim of an online romance which was starting with him talking in instagram and then get me on hangouts to talk and declaring soon he is in love with me and wants to get out of Syria. He knows how to make me believing he is totally in love with me and wants to marry me. He started saying that he wants to be with me soon and visit me. After a while chatting in the evening he started saying that he needs to be approved to leave Syria. The problem is that he needs a considerable sum of money in order to get approved. He insists that is the rule of the UN.
Chris J
March 28, 2021

In reply to by peaches212

it's likely most scammers are doing multiple scams at the same time, this name is also associated with blank ATM cards, which is a big time scam, there's no such thing as a blank ATM card. it's helpful to report any other illegal activities to the gov't. when anyone asks for money, don't send it, use Uncommon sense, use the 100/0 principle. it goes to be street smart, and be aware of the scammer's lack of credibility, hence 100% doubt, 0% credibility, you can use this in everyday life. The scammer is also gullible, use some stuff from old tv shows from the 50's, 60's. they won't ever catch on.
Sheryl by the Gulf
July 10, 2018
I was scammed by a Richard Enzo Duvan who posed as a representative of Kames Capital Investment International of Edinburgh, Scotland. In researching, I discovered he had used the same "lingo" on a woman in Michigan.
Blinded by Hotness
December 24, 2019

In reply to by Sheryl by the Gulf

OMG the guy I’m chatting with is “supposedly “ on a rig in Edinburgh Scotland as a Marine Biologist,He goes by the name John P., gorgeous, hot, great body, I have received several pictures even when requesting 1 specific, however his recent request was for bolts on a machine on this rig for a total of $2,550.00!!! I said are you crazy? I don’t have that kind of money!! He then says I’ll pay you back, right!!! Then I’m like your on a rig they should be paying for it, He then says I’m an independent contractor so I pay for my own stuff, I then say sorry but you will have to ask a Family Member which he then says I have no one but my Daughter, oh yeah, in the beginning mentioned His Wife passed a Couple years ago from Ovarian Cancer....
MeTo!!
January 20, 2022

In reply to by Blinded by Hotness

I've been texting a guy that calls himself Hawkins Lambert since Jan. 2020. He started so fast-telling me he was in love with me. Told me he was coming in April and asked for my home address because he was sending a box with some tools here...then customs found cash in box and told me I'd have to pay $15,000 to get it out of customs lockup....I didn't....the love talk stopped but once in a while he still text. I answer, no money sent. Said his wife died of cancer and he has a daughter about 12 named Sharon....to bad because he is good looking. Under different situations I would have cared a lot
Sandi
July 10, 2018
You can use Google Images to search for a photo to see who it actually belongs to. Most have no idea that their photo is being used for nefarious purposes.
Winbell
July 10, 2018

In reply to by Sandi

How do you use google to put a photo in ? I tried and I was unable to. I was scammed out of a lot of money which I’ll never get back. I reported it to the IRS, FTC and FBI. But I now have debt I am paying for b/c of it. I feel like a total fool. But I kept all of our emails, texts, transactions - his so called mugging where money I sent was taken and his wrist were slit. He was good, I very stupid. I only wish there was something I could do to protect others from him on the dating websites or in general
Gypsy
July 11, 2018

In reply to by Winbell

TO Winbell - I have copied and pasted emails, posts, pictures, messenger texts, voice mail message with voice and I have them available if FTC or any law enforcement agency wants them. I have fake documents, plane ticket, field trip forms, hospital invoice and United Kingdom contact and bank address and account number. I did a background and a reverse phone number and found a second name - maybe he is the scammer with several aliases and other phone numbers - and the Facebook picture and the Facebook name are all fake along with the kids' names and their emails.. I was very fortunate that MoneyGram had been watching and indicated to me there had been some fraud in the area(?) and called me to verify that I knew the requester and the receiver .. ----I had to say no, I couldn't lie. I had never met either one so I was able to get refund of £1000. Oh, the man was gorgeous, his voice was intriguing and he had the most flattering things to say. As lonely divorcees or widows, we are perfect prey. He was so conniving. Be skeptical and don't get wound up - cause it hurts emotionally, too.
zmladyhawk
February 13, 2019

In reply to by Gypsy

Was his name either John Hoffman or George Gianlugi? Met him on POF and says he works for skyview Investments international and on Linkedin as Gianlugi but john Hoffman works for Capvest Capital international investments...I have a photo I recieved 2 letters identicle different names from him and saw a prayer for November where his mother in Italy and he was talking to me in Jan. when she passed in Hamburg
Hopelesslove
March 08, 2019

In reply to by zmladyhawk

I have been scammed from George Gianlugi. He says he works at Skyview. I have been speaking to him since 11/2017 Its been a roller coaster of emotion and monies.
stepdadprotector
March 08, 2019

In reply to by zmladyhawk

Curious as to what your outcome was. My step-daughter was talking to a Steve Hoffman with the same story!! Worked for Capvest Capital--his mom was Italian and just passed in Hamburg in late Feb!!!!!! He then quit his job as a fund manager for Capvest and then went to Dubai to meet some oil investors and then wanted to start up his own investment company. But since he still worked for Capvest until his resignation was accepted, he couldn't have his name on the new company. Wanted my step-daughter to send him her full name and address and then his commission would be paid thru her to him. She said NO as she was just waiting for something to happen. He then told her he would buy her a mercedes!!!! Sure he was going to need more info from her, but it didn't go any further. And I'm sure most of the emails are simply form letters to be used with however many women he is using at the same time.
zippy
March 23, 2019

In reply to by stepdadprotector

I have been conversing with this guy says his name is Fred Amato. He worked at capvest. He had a large number of shares and went to Dubai to sell and meet with other investors. He sold his share and put them in my name. He quit his job at capvest to start his own company. His mom has just died but they are supposedly from Greece. I think it’s probably the same guy. I just happened to run across this site. The amount of shares has changed. The amount of money has changed. The dates keep changing. He actually called me this morning and wanted to know if I planned on abandoning him. Now I’m very nervous after reading your post. He’s told me many times how much he loves me and he wants to get married. Haven’t know him for that long. I wish I could attach a picture. Please let me know. Thanks
swim2020!
May 29, 2020

In reply to by zippy

I have been talking with a Alessandro Nelson who has the same story as yours. He has not asked me for any money. But the story is the same, mother died in April 2020, he works for Capvest, after mother passed, decided to retire, had to wait 14 days until resignation would be accepted in he meantime when to Dubai to close some business, put shares in my name, selling them and returning to US to meet me. How was your outcoume>>
LLc41
June 09, 2020

In reply to by swim2020!

I had the same sob story, unfortunately fell for it. Was scammed out of my life savings. The supposed person I was talking to was Luis Calvino. Pretty name. It is the exact same story though, except his mother passed in February. Even though you may not have given him anything please contact your local police department and make a report. Have them send to FBI. We need to work together to stop these leaches.
Ses1951
June 21, 2020

In reply to by LLc41

I have found out more on Luis Calvino and his scam. Put his picture into Social Catfish and came up with over 40 matches. On dating sites in several countries using a different name, age and job information. He has been doing this a long time. He also disconnected the phone number had for him.
Ses1951
July 23, 2020

In reply to by Ses1951

Luis Calvino goes by many names. As of July 22, 2020 he was on POF as Richard Scott in Orange Park Florida. I reported him and he was removed. He is also on LinkedIn as Ben Lorenz with Rhode Investments in Dallas. Has been working the same scam for years. I think he lives a very high lifestyle with expensive clothes and traveling by scamming women. He did not get a penny from me, I figured him out before even asking. I will just keep posting updates as I find him in hopes he won't hurt anymore women.
LEEBERMAN1
July 06, 2020

In reply to by zippy

Well I have this lady that says that she has this inheritance check and she needs my bank information and I keep telling her no but she doesn’t give up but she has called me but her voice sounds very broken English and she says she lives in New Jersey and says that if I do this for her that we will be together and I’m not buying it
Strause64
May 19, 2019

In reply to by stepdadprotector

I just had the same scam performed on me from a woman from eHarmony who said that her name was Liliana N. Pisano. Had that same story but I did send full name and address but just sent them an email with your story so I am hoping that this scam can finally stop. Never met the woman and was going on 35+days of just emails, videos (never said my name) and pictures.
Ray69
June 17, 2019

In reply to by Strause64

Did she say she worked for capvest in Boise, Idaho? And lived in Murietta on Washington street?
whyme#321
December 29, 2019

In reply to by stepdadprotector

I have been contacted by a James Lorris that says he works for Common-Wealth Investment International and he was currently located in Kentucky. He was sent to LA, then on to Australia while there his mother passed in New Zealand. From her funeral he then went on to Dubai to work with an investor. He says he is starting his own investment company and wants to use my name because he hasn’t resigned from his company yet. I will be considered an investor, he would be the fund manager and all he needs is my legal name and address and he will be plugged in to this wonderful deal. Oh yeah, he wants to resign as fund manager for his company because he travels so much and he wants to start a relationship with me. He is a widower and has a daughter in med school in London. He professed his love for me really fast because he is so lonely. He says he was born in Greece and his father was a US Marine. He has a very nice voice with possibly a European accent and he writes very eloquently. He had called me several times and the number has come up as an Australian international code, and then with a UAE international code. Can an international code be spoofed? Anyone run across this man or this description?
Gullible 1on't…
April 14, 2020

In reply to by whyme#321

WOW. I wish I had read this before I fell for a man who contacted me on March.com. This description is exactly the same for the man who contacted me. The ONLY difference is his name. The name he gave me was Austin Adrian. EVERYTHING else was exactly the same as this person describes. Fortunately I read this before I wired him any money.
april-sf
May 01, 2020

In reply to by whyme#321

I was contacted by a man James Lorris as well, fund manager, located in England, had to go to Sydney, he got the message his mother, living in New Zealand, died so he had to fly to NZ, after the funeral he had to go to Dubai. Told the same story and asked for my name and address. He was born in Greece, father was in the army. His daughter studies in US, he is widower. He wants to resign as fund manager for his company because he travels so much and he wants to start a relationship with me. He says he is starting his own investment company and wants to use my name because he hasn’t resigned from his company yet. I will be considered an investor, all the same story. He knows my legal name while we were emailing each other, but not my address. He called me a several times as well from sydney, NZ and UAE. After when I wanted to stop the contact he called me, oh, he was so sad, how could I even think he would able to cheat me. He loves me etc etc. If my answer is no didn't matter he would look for an other solution.We continued by Telegram(whatsapp), no loving emails anymore. And now his daughter in US is in hospital and she can't pay the bill, he can't send money from the UAE, have to wait till he is back home. So if I could please help him. This must be the same man.
Kmp
August 22, 2020

In reply to by april-sf

I was contacted by the same person and after a little more than a month was skeptical when he said he needed my legal name and address. I then checked this site and see he has been doing this with others. He was posted on match.com as lova but his email was James Lorris and it was essentially the same story. So glad I figured it out before giving any identifying information or sending money
Kmp
August 22, 2020

In reply to by april-sf

I was contacted by same man same story. Realized something was up when he asked for my legal name and address after about a month for fund. So glad I figured it out. He was on match.com as lova but then on email as James lorris
Rcad41
April 18, 2019

In reply to by zmladyhawk

I have a friend who met a John Hoffman online . Says he has a business in Canada and New York. Says he is wealthy Although he asked her to pick him up at the airport in Newark on this Saturday. She has never met him I. Person. This sounds dangerous to me
nyny54
April 19, 2019

In reply to by zmladyhawk

zm, i have a friend who we think is being scammed by someone named john hoffman he claims to be from canada and ceo of a company can i see the pic?
Djack
December 28, 2019

In reply to by nyny54

Hi- I think I have a friend falling for the same scam under a Paul shively. Says he lives in New York and does business in Canada. Can you please send me any information you might have on this situation? All we have are photos.
susanDon't use…
April 26, 2019

In reply to by Gypsy

Was his name Martins Jayden Sparks!!! This one is very good. But he didn't get a cent from me, but he sure tried. He says he is a dr. and an engineer. So please if any ladies befriended him on Facebook or anywhere, quit!!! He wants ITUNES cards..
Theresa777
June 19, 2019

In reply to by susanDon't use…

Susandon’t use, could u fill more on Francis Martinez, and the scam u when went through
Rita...
July 08, 2019

In reply to by susanDon't use…

Susan don't use, u wrote about a Dr Francis Martinez, would love more info, have been talking to him for a short times, is in Syria, has a daughter living with a nanny in Brazil, anymore info appreciated...
emma12
December 17, 2019

In reply to by Rita...

I am talking to Dr Martinez any more info would be great
Tryme.go
November 03, 2019

In reply to by Gypsy

I just put in my report of being scammed! I have a lot of information also I'm hoping someone will contact me soon because I want to delete everything I have but I also want to share it to help others and maybe catch the sob behind all this