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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.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • 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 ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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.

freeme love
July 10, 2018
my husband is in denial. he has been talkin to a woman from romaina she has him believing that she is in love with him. she managed to get into the discover bank system and pretended to work there. I have tried to tell him she is scamming him but he will not listen to me. he is giving up his wife and son for someone that is not even real. but his loss he should have better since then that to believe someone on the other side of the world.
OKgirl
July 11, 2018

In reply to by freeme love

I had the same thing happened with my husband. This girl who pretended as half Turkish initiated their meeting from LinkedIn. In 3 weeks time she had my husband believed that he is in loved with her and started asking for 5 grand!
BBT
September 11, 2018

In reply to by freeme love

I understand exactly how you feel. My dad has been having an online affair with a woman who claims to live near him but for some unknown reason she is stuck in China with no money to get home because she lent all her money to other people who now owe her. My dad had stupidly opened a bank account for her, gave her all of his personal info and next thing I know my mom is talking about someone trying to charge $10,000 to their credit card. So not realizing that she is a scammer, her next idea is to have her friends that owe her money to take out credit cards using some fake names and use the my dads address for where to send the bill to....Two different credit cards were used and when he asks her what happened she says she didn't know they were fake and these were real people that owed her money. After this my dad still thinks she is in China with no way to get home. She has been there supposedly almost 8 months now with no money for even food for the past 3 months...so everyday she emails him honey cant you just send me like $200 so i can get food. Her latest scam is sending him more fake credit cards to pay for a few hundred dollars on an iTunes gift card. Thankfully he keeps telling her he cannot help her at all financially since he got screwed over twice. She still does not stop, every few days since he told her no she still emails baby please honey do this for me i promise your wife won't find out. I love my dad to death and a part of me really wants to have a serious talk with him but the way I found out about this was about 8 months ago he asked me to look at something on his computer and I noticed in his email something saying I love you baby so much to some unknown woman. I probably should have asked at the time, what is this? But since then I have been going and reading the sent messages because he deletes the inbox emails and that's how I found all this. Technically I only know all this cuz I invaded his privacy and I just can't seem to bring myself to tell him I know. My mom found out about the first two attempts and told him she was going to divorce him if he didn't stop talking to her. Yet he still does, believing that she will come home from China and they can see each other secretly. Sorry for the book reply but I am so frustrated with this and this is the only way to get it out for right now. So just know I know exactly how disappointed you and your son must feel.
P.J.
July 10, 2018
I heard that people on O-k cupid take girls out to eat and when the meal is over, they say they left their wallet at home. So the girl ends of paying and the guy keeps looking for new girls and getting free meals over and over again.
eschwartz
July 10, 2018
I was scammed by someone on FB who friended me. We developed a relationship online. He said he was in Afganistan on a humanitarian mission and needed help getting a package back to the U.S. After awhile he hit me up for money to help get this package home through the use of a diplomat. Needless to say I believed him and lost a lot of money in the process.
ntnguye1026
August 17, 2018

In reply to by eschwartz

i was a victim too to the same case you are describing. my God, i lost so much money as well.
Maesp
November 26, 2018

In reply to by ntnguye1026

Can you say the guys name? The same thing happened to me but I didn't fall for it. This guy's name is Steven Morales. When I found out who he really was he blocked me.
kookie63
December 07, 2018

In reply to by Maesp

Wao the same thing happened to me. I was talking with a guy on Hangouts and after few months he asked me for my phone number and address so he can send me a package with some cash he found while in a mission in Syria and he also wanted to send a ring as a proof of his love for me, but right there something told me that this isn’t right! So I knew he was a scammer and I let him know that he picked up the wrong woman to scam and I blocked him. I would never give anyone my personal information or send money to someone that I have never met. Not me!
Anonymous
August 08, 2020

In reply to by kookie63

Same thing just happened to me recently. This time the scammer claimed to be a female military officer in Syria but i don't want free cash so immediately she asked for my information i blocked him or her.
Kim
September 25, 2020

In reply to by Anonymous

Brother, tell me who is she? Where do you know her? Same thing just happend to me, she claimed that she is a peacekeeping in Yemen and she want invest money in my country
Alice
August 25, 2018

In reply to by eschwartz

it's unfortunate that I couldn't read this site a month ago when I also fell into the same trap. those scammers are really professional artists and the one i encountered conspires with another so-called courier company. I have lost much money and really sad about it. never trust anyone offline.
ticketbell
September 04, 2019

In reply to by Alice

I feel stupid. I have been chatting with a guy name Antony choosen do you know anything about him
Hazeleyedgal
March 06, 2020

In reply to by ticketbell

Anyone know a highly ranked US Marine officer in Afghanistan called Kendrick Lovelace? Or one based in Kuwait or Syria called Johnny Buster?
Basketball
September 04, 2019

In reply to by Alice

I feel stupid. I have been chatting with a guy name Steven Armstrong do you know anything about him always asking for money says in Africa.
Jmac
August 05, 2020

In reply to by Basketball

I met a guy named Steve Armstrong on a game site. Says he is military in Afghanistan. Pretty sure he is scammer. Wanted to know what eventually happened in your situation.
Me
December 28, 2020

In reply to by Jmac

He is goiñg on the fàme site . I feel bad for the guys picture they are using
stupidjerk, No…
November 29, 2018

In reply to by eschwartz

Oh my Gosh, the same thing happened to me. Was his name Nicholas J Townsend? The so called diplomat was David Geary and he was stuck in Italy with the pkg. I sent him money like a jerk. I lost money too.
Free us from s…
January 07, 2019

In reply to by eschwartz

Do you have a name? Someone is trying to do this to me as well
Michele67
October 11, 2019

In reply to by eschwartz

I had the exact same person do this to me. By the sounds of it it is definitely the same guy. He gave me the same story!
spanky01
July 10, 2018
Thank you as always for your very informative newsletter. Because of your newsletters, I have not been scammed and I pray that I am never scammed. I am 72 years old and I always urger the elderly to sign up for your newsletters. Thank you in advance for caring
Dragon fire 50
July 10, 2018
I am getting a lot of women bothering me on Hangouts and messenger. they are always in guianna taking care of sick family members. I no sooner delete 10 ten more comes on
Susan
July 11, 2018
I was scammed by a man who goes by James Adams from Houston, Texas he claimed. Also uses name Thomas Smitherman.
Mikey
July 11, 2018
How does one spoof a number? Why can't we stop spoofing?
Countrygal971
July 12, 2018
I have been in the same boat as most of everyone on here. I too didn't want to believe it, but it finally sunk in. Yes, I have beaten myself up over it, now having to look into bankruptcy because I am in that much debt from everything that happened. Please anyone who thinks otherwise, read these comments that are being posted. They are telling you exactly what can happen if you fall for this type of scam. Protect yourself as much as possible.
Used up
May 19, 2019

In reply to by Countrygal971

I was scammed out of $33k by a guy calling himself Casey Oliver. He found me on Instagram and we moved our convos over to hangouts. He claimed to be a 1st class Sargent in the Army serving in Afghanistan. His wife died from lung cancer and has an 8 year old daughter. I fell hard for him. The only proof I had was the pics he sent me. He was restricted from video chats, phone calls, and taking selfies. He needed the money to release his luggage from holding and once the luggage was released he can retire. He claimed that all his investments were in that luggage, over $600k worth. He claimed to love me right away and at first I was skeptical about it but he was definitely good at manipulating me and got the money. Now I’m looking at bankruptcy and losing everything I’ve worked so hard to get after my divorce!! I feel like the stupidest person ever!! I hope he gets what he deserves!!
Miss Depressed
June 15, 2020

In reply to by Used up

I can relate to this. May 17 2020 i met a guy online. He was so very nice to me. I am dreaming of a happy marriage and he promised me..sending me sweet words. He was very romantic. On our 3rd day of chatting he got my real name,address and phone number. We officially in a relationship. We talk about our future After few days he messaged me he said that he sent money not through bank but he sent it through logistic company by parcel and will arrive my country May 25, 2020. After 3 days a woman from the logistic called me that they have the package and i need to pay for the shiipping fee. I refused to pay but my man got angry because he said i will for the shipping because he dont want to loose his money. So i have no choice i sent money to the logistics. After 1 day the logistic called me again that they said they detect money in the parcel and i need to pay for the money laundry demand of the custom. I got loan just to pay for that. The next day the logistic again called me that another payment demand from the custom for the penalty. I sent again. The next day another demand and they threatened me that my sender will be reported to the police if i will not pay for the 15 dollars custom demand. Another demand was tax declaration until it reaches to the point that i have nothing. In an instant my sender give up the package and said he lost his 1 million dollars. Because i said i have no more money to pay for the demand. I realized i was already a victim of a scammer. I beg the scammer to give my money back i cried so much. I cant even sleep. I lose appetite. Now i was so very down. It seems like i want to end my life. I have nothing and i got so many debts. I want to kill my self now because of what happened to me. My man i was inlove with still talking to me and pretend his innoscent. But i do believe hes part of that scam activity. He promised to help me but after 2months. But i dont know if i will believe him. Now he claimed he has a cancer. What if after two months of waiting to refund all my money he tell me that he gonna die. I was so down now. I do not know if i will solve my problem. I want to die now.
NGUYỄN
November 23, 2020

In reply to by Miss Depressed

I got into the same situation that you got. It’s so sad we are the victims of all the scammers try to take advantages out of our lonely living condition need a real love to live a good life afterward. It’s so sad , we need to speak up to let someone out there to be alert so they will prevent the disaster can happen to them .
NGUYỄN
November 23, 2020

In reply to by Miss Depressed

If you get involved into some FB date or make friend on line, do not talk about your financial status, do not give out the email address, your home address, your name’s details, your phone number. Just talk on messenger. If you cannot talk to them don’t ever trust them. That’s all I can say.
investigating
July 12, 2018
Anyone who is chatting to Freedom on hangout? He ask money to someone I know, big amount and for supposed to be for airline ticket for emergency so he can go home in America. But I read here military doesn't charge members to go on leave, I suppose even emergency leave, right? I ask Freedom if he has SSN or FIN and he doesn't even know what are those, unbelievable.
Wang
June 06, 2020

In reply to by investigating

same here I researched there's no charge for Military leave and no need the third party to apply for that, I fell in love with this man so much I would believe him but the fact is telling me I can't believe him.. It's very heartbroken .
Breezy
November 15, 2020

In reply to by Wang

Wang. What was his name? I just went thro with an andy morales that he needed me to sign some paper work in order for him to come home from his deployment in Germany
Meagan4love
July 01, 2020

In reply to by investigating

I’m currently on Hangouts with Jack Fredom. He’s demanding an eBay card,and has sent pictures of kids that were killed in Syria. I’m trying to figure out who the pictures are that he sent me. I was playing WordWars with him.
Mia, in, france
July 12, 2018
I was speaking with a man for 3 week said me was in the military then start saying he was shot. And needed me to get him out. Ask me to write to a captain to help him get out. when I did they said they would but it would cost me money. When I asked how much it was 10,000euros. I contacted the US army criminal division website and reported it. But he will not stop messing with me. He even called my work place and told them stuff that almost got me fired.
Maggie edwards
July 23, 2018
I think I'm being scammed by someone who calls himself Michael William,says he is a sergeant in dutch army.
Kelly
October 04, 2018

In reply to by Maggie edwards

I have met a Michael williams from Ohio, an engineer working in the uk. Just wondering if the same person
salyroga
December 07, 2018

In reply to by Maggie edwards

Hey that is the same guy that has been trying to get me to send him money for his vacation letter. He says he is Mike William.. a General Surgeon for the UN. From London and his wife died in a car accident three years ago.
Rebecca
July 12, 2018
I stay away from online data sites since I've heard that they don't really monitor who joins. Better to either meet someone in a social setting among people you know or have someone that you know and trust to set you up with someone that they know and trust. Don't be in too much of a rush to get hitch. It's safer that way.
They Tried to …
July 12, 2018
About ten years ago I met this guy on Facebook from France (I don't recall his name now) but he expressed interest in me and I talked to him a bit. Eventually he started saying he loved me and that he owned a store in Paris and wanted to send me some merchandise which consisted of clothes and shoes. I agreed and I gave him my address and phone number so he could send the items. A couple of days after I received a shipment notice that looked legit, I got a phone call from an alleged customs agent in Malaysia that said the package was flagged and searched and the it contained cash money (Euros) which violated international law and for a 1000 dollar fine, they would send me the package. I contacted the guy on Facebook and he said that he had put money in the package and he would pay $500 and I had to pay the other half. He gave me the name and number of a person in a Middle Eastern country, not Malaysia where the call allegedly came from, and said I had to wire it there. Needless to say I didn't pay it since I realized I was being scammed. I didn't report it and now I realize I should have since these people have probably done this many times to many people. You have to be careful out there.
esr 1986
July 21, 2019

In reply to by They Tried to …

Two days ago I was in the same situation I was scammed they said I must send R8000 then I started to be worried and realised that this is a scam from now on I don't talk to anyone on FB inbox. I have learnt a lesson
Allie
August 16, 2018
I live in Tucson, Arizona and I have been on the Bravo Base and VOP Alpha Team page and neither seem legit. They continuously ask people for gift cards and supplies. I have heard numerious versions which all end up with Veterans in the hospital after injesting expired food or the unsanitary conditions of the camp. Rodents are infesting the camp and no one, not the civilian or military is willing to intervene. Please don’t give them your hard earned money, it’s not going to the vets, it’s going to the Methed up Command. Yours, Allie
I Would Hurt A Fly
July 13, 2018
As many of you have put it, just invest a little time and asks questions, and the truth - or at least the lies, will be revealed. Be Smart.
Mexico49
July 14, 2018
Anyone recognize the name Steve Arthur as he uses that name. Says he works for the United Nations, is a doctor, wealthy and madly in love with me. Wants to come back to bus to marry me, his adorable queen, says he's in Yemen but I traced his call to Ghana. I've sent him money for his son, iTune cards, hold chain, now he has a box full of money he wants to send to me. I had to send money to a diplomat for storage in Heathrow airport in England. He sends pics of himself but I haven't seen it on any websites. He wants more money to get home and I had to borrow. Has 2 kids in US in boarding school anyone know him?
Looking for co…
August 05, 2018

In reply to by Mexico49

@Mexixo49 would you mind sharing photos of him? Or at least describe what he looks like?
RTINKU
August 23, 2018

In reply to by Looking for co…

tall dark handsome says is a Captain in Mexico Border. born and brought up in Houston TEAXS
Fooled once
January 20, 2019

In reply to by Mexico49

If it is who I think it is, he also uses the name James Arthur and says he has one son,Alex, in boarding school in Texas. Other than that his story to me is identical to yours..
Foolish
November 06, 2019

In reply to by Fooled once

I’m talking to one now who was supposed to be in the army and in Afghanistan. He was set to retire in October. It’s always been send funds for a replacement, then documents, the airfare. Finally supposedly made it to New York and was being held. Had to pay for time in New York then it was a few for this and a few for that. Said he is from the Houston area. Has a son who is in boarding school while he is away. His wife died four years ago. It’s just him and his son. Blah blah. Has no family. He goes by the name of Derek Shultz. He has sent many pictures. And they are personal pictures too. I have googled the images and nothing shows up. Hmmmm
Sassyd
August 19, 2020

In reply to by Foolish

I met a man named John Cage or John Robinson. The story is identical except he had a daughter but no family and his wife whom died 3 years ago.. He got burned and banged up He was in the hospital and needed money for food and now a plane ticket because he has to fly home as a civilian Because of the secret mission
Crystal
February 22, 2021

In reply to by Foolish

I think the same guy is contacting me. It started on What’s Up App and then he sent a Instagram request. Said his name is Derrick but his Instagram name is Mike Schultz. He indicated he’s working overseas and has 2 sons. One that lives with him and another here in the US.
Willowbee
November 06, 2021

In reply to by Fooled once

Can you tell me James Arthur? One son? I have a good friend involved online with a man claiming to be. She beleives him. I don’t. Did he say he was a musician? Did he show you any identification? What did he ask for from you?