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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.

A woman looking at a dating site on her computer.

18,207 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.
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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 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.

Marelle
March 17, 2019
Last summer was approached on FB. Quickly, Mr. Scammer wanted to move to Google Hangouts. All of this is new to me. Had never heard of Google Hangouts. His FB page was suspicious to me. No friends listed. A few pics posted and all the comments were from Africans. My story is similar to so much of what has been written. I wish there was a place to post photos to see if this guy has been around for awhile. Frankly, I don't believe the picture is the guy. My guess, stolen pics. Claims to work on an oil rig. However, those I-Tune cards! I was clueless about the cards. O.K. , decided to help out a few times. It grew and grew. Right now it's over $3000. If course, dummy me had put a stop to it. You must know, this was a 'romance' scam. It actually grew over the months. I couldn't help myself, wanting the attention and kindness. And of course, it turned into other requests, specifically money. I have somewhat of a paper trail I am going to use against this guy. I will take it to the FBI site for Internet scams. Here it is March, 2019, and after all the red flags, I am just now going to report it. I'm embarrassed and ashamed that I fell for it. Here I was, the one always warning others about scams.
Valeriel
March 23, 2019

In reply to by Marelle

Your story sounds like mine, his name is "Jose Argueta", 10 years old daughter, a FB page with just few pictures but thumbs up from Nigerian people. I confronted him, he got upset but still wants to "work out" our "relationship" :))))
My Turn
March 17, 2019
Hey all. I’m the newest one. I didn’t give this person any money. The catch for me is this. She claimed to live the next town over and her area code was the same as mine. But the third day we talked she was on a plane to Turkey for some job and sh’d be there two weeks. For the n cut 3 days all of her texts were word for word off other scammer sites that I read. So before it got to her asking for money she asked me to send her an email. So I did. I copied the entire page of the scammer website pasted it in the body of the email with the subject ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR? Then blocked her email and phone number.
Jehova Nissi
March 18, 2019
Anyone know of a Elloit Reece Stefan...relocated to Scotland from Holland? Wife died of breast cancer & has a daughter..about 12 years old?
Wow
March 18, 2019
Wow im Sorry to hear this from all you. Gotta be careful on the internet they can do anything from trick you to hack you. Only send money if you know them in real life rather well. I thought this thing only happend to males , I’ve never fell for it but it is rather sickening to think they try it on you to. If you haven’t got a meet after a couple days / weeks of talking I would just assume it’s a troll and move on
ghan
March 18, 2019
Nigerian scammer peter davolee he takes false profile pictures changes his name very nice looking guy beware ask for i tune cards only got 200 from me second time he ask for cards i knew he was a scammer beware they tell you anything if they ever say dear, angel, darling, and sunshine you got a scammer
Ayneo
March 18, 2019
Does anyone have similar encounter? A guy added me on Instagram, claimed to be some engineer based in Houston, portrayed himself as American Chinese. Single, dad passed away, mum staying closed by but not together. Got a contract to work in Istanbul, some work site accident happened, need some money for new machine. Tried googled him online but nothing found.
Suzy
May 21, 2019

In reply to by Ayneo

This sounds very familiar, but he doesn't live in Houston, by any chance do you have a photo, or name? Ty
DTA
July 29, 2019

In reply to by Ayneo

I think I have chatted with this guy. It was back in August-September 2018. He posed as a soldier in the U.S. Army. He went by the name Scott Armstrong. I knew hecwas a scammer, but played along. He got so mad because I wouldn't send him money. He said he as Chinese and his father passed away and he wasn't close to his mother because she was mentally ill. He even went as far as to say he is American, but raised by his father's best friend and his family who is Chinese.
Topsy
March 18, 2019
Hi everyone, Just been chatting to a guy on POF but wanted to move quickly onto email and then Hangout! He calls himself Gabriel Jeff Weber aged 55 yrs old and a widower! States his parents are deceased and he is German but been living in NJ, USA although oddly states he was living in Hereford, UK for 2 years. States he is a Colonel with US army currently deployed on a peace-keeping mission to Syria...... I'd already got warning signs at the "move off POF" but I like to play them at their own game! This guy thinks I'm sending him an Apple iPhone , an Apple I watch , some cornflakes, coffee and cookies LOL!!!!!! I mind just send the cornflakes for a laugh........ of course they have to go through a third party - someone called John Vaa who apparently works as a diplomat for the UN and can get stuff to military bases all over the place from his office in West Africa!!!!! He is very charming and has a good command of the English language ........ I used TinFox?? to check his 3 photos he sent - he's a very good looking middle aged man - one is with another military guy in an aeroplane which someone else mentioned here - all 3 photos come back as fake scam info ......... so BEWARE!!!! He keeps mentioning his visits to Syrian orphanages and talks about the children a lot. It's all part of an elaborate plot to get me to part with my money although he hasn't directly asked for any actual cash or iTune cards etc etc. It he is desperately keen to know when his iPhone will arrive, allegedly "so he can talk to me" - no doubt to declare his undying love for me as I'm his Princess and his Queen and we will soon be married....... blah! Blah! Blah! I've already reported his profile to POF but wanted to alert others on here!
Ghan
March 18, 2019
Ok
jj
March 19, 2019
has anyone had any contact with someone named david martins . claims to be an engineer lives in Seattle but command of English language is lacking and he says he got a contract in Africa for 2 months?
Mdc
April 05, 2019

In reply to by jj

I’m talking to a Martin D Camden he is working on a contract( oil rig) and his machine caught fire so he needs me to send him money so he can get it fixed and come home. I’m not sending him money.
huntingirl
March 19, 2019
I've been talking to a Sgt. that's stationed in Nigeria. His name is Sgt. James Blakely. Sent me over 100 pics of himself. Won't do a video chat cuz his phone can't...and right now is in a hospital over there after being shot by terrorists. Suppose to b on a drift deal ???? and needs $$ to get out of the hospital and get back to Texas. Funny though...when we chat on the phone he definitely doesn't sound Texan...his English is VERY bad . Got in touch with me threw FB but now I c his page is gone. Needs $$ ASAP to come home. Has anyone else dealt with Sgt. James Blakely???? If so we can xchange pics . also expressed love after a few weeks...and we've been talking for over 2 years....always promises he's coming home but then something always comes up ! I feel soooo bad for the real Sgt. Blakely. I wish he knew what this ass was doing...I just wonder where this imposter got all these photos ....
Oynxmom
September 09, 2019

In reply to by huntingirl

Hey not sure this is the same guy but been talking to someone on hangouts. Say's he's a Sgt on a peace keeping mission in Cairo egypt. He got in contact with me on instagram. Yes there has been money involved.
investigatinggf
March 19, 2019
Hi everyone! I been reading these threads with heavy heart. A close friend of mine met a man from Nigeria,claiming to be a owner operator of an oil rig in Cyprus. The man is real though, good looking, lives in same town as her. Went on dates. He paid for everything. And he seems to be REALLY well off. Drives an expensive car ( like 145K car). Lives in a good townhouse. Seems extremely well educated. It all seems amazing. He is like the guy who everyone dreams off. Does everything right. But he has no social media profile, like.. nothing. All there is, is a website with his picture, representing his company. Investigating that made me found that all of the phonenumbers and fax numbers are fake. The address of " head quarters " is fake. Even the address that his domain is registerred on is fake. So all of sudden things dont add up. He doesnt ask her for money ( its 2 months now ) or does anything out of the ordinary. So I am hoping that all this has a good explanation and he is victim of stereotypes and we are looking to much into it. But these stories frighten me. Does anyone has good advise on what to do?
Trixie
March 19, 2019
Been talking to Clark Dawson (55 year old widower with a daughter in boarding school) He was in California but when to Cape Town for business. Hasn't asked for money yet, but I recognized the scam from day one. Yesterday there was a problem with a shipment and today his bank account is frozen. He has to fly home for a biometric scan to unlock the account. "Damn those Russian hackers". The pictures he uses are wonderful. His words are overly kind. I told him that if possible we could clone him and create a team of Clarks that I could talk to all day long. :) The team they have assigned to me has two decent chatters but at least one cold personality and one that is not so smart. He pastes the same messages multiple times and today posted a link to the page he took the message from. Finding humor in this, but really want to find a way to at least get enough evidence to stop this group. Stay strong ladies!!!! What's too good to be true usually is.
Chewie
October 14, 2019

In reply to by Trixie

Hi . Im talking to a guy clark dawson . Hes from Texas but lived a gew years in turkey . Do you have pics of him .
heartbroken
March 19, 2019
the persont that used me was named gabriel johnson yepes a soldier supposly in africa claiming to be gay
marria
March 20, 2019
i need urgent to post comments on how i receive my lost husband back in america on march 16/ 2019
Candy on lineu…
March 20, 2019
I just got friended by someone and they were using a picture I saw on a scammer beware site as a common one used. I told him I knew he was a scammer. That it was not his picture and he said what scam? I said romantic scam to get money. He said he was a man of honor and I should apologize. I then blocked him. After telling him to get a. Honest job! It felt good to call him out. I will keep doing this it's fun to get them in their game!
Renee
March 21, 2019
I was talking to a guy who said him and his daughter were stuck in Nigeria , lagos. Said he needed money to come back to l a . That he was getting paid when he got back to the states. Told me he list his wife due to his wife giving birth to their daughter.
jasonnguyen
March 21, 2019
i'm gay and we follow together on IG. That guy name is Alex Martinez and he told me that he's an US army deployed to IRAQ for serving Military. About his stories is he've been serving in iraq since 2015 and will leave camp in this April 2019, His parents had died and he doesnt have any brother or sister so that he wants me to be his love. Hahaha. Closely to the end of the conversation he said he will visti me for 2 weeks and back to Texas - where his homestay located. I do feel he was a scammer and i ask him to make the video call for me but theres no answer.Haha. Anyone here who met this guy? Tell me. Sorry for my bad English cause I'm Vietnamese :)
Concerned daughter
March 21, 2019
My dad has been talking with someone for about a year now. We all know it’s a scammer but he won’t believe us. The name is linda Smith. From Springfield Illinois. Claims she originally from Texas. She is black and the age 26. She has asked for money and has said she will come see him when he said he’d buy the ticket she was quick to ask for his card information and do it her self. All signs are there that this isn’t who they say they are. He has sent her iTunes gift cards. Everything she has sent him looks fake but my dad Is in complete denial is unreal. Has anyone dealt with this person? Or can help me shed light to help my dad see what this really is before he loses a lot of money. Thanks so much!
Aziza
March 21, 2019
I have been online dating for a while.. its fun.. but i will block guys who start asking me for money, itunes cards or talking he had a millons (trust me they are lying) in his account.. its a lie.. Falling in love don't come in a day , week and months.. better broke your heart than be lie by those men online..
ROSE
March 21, 2019
I just started online relationship with Thomas Echrich, German-American. professed love almost immediately. parents dead. son with aunt in Germany. work in the oil and gas industry. subsea engineer. now in Dubai needing funds to ship machine from China so he can finish his work. Anyone else with the same story?
alias
March 21, 2019
I just received a scam e-mail, but I'm playing along. Google marked it as possible phishing. Should I do anything beside mark it as spam. Can I do anything to help catch him?
ROSE
March 21, 2019
I just started online relationship with Thomas Echrich, German-American. professed love almost immediately. parents dead. son with aunt in Germany. work in the oil and gas industry. subsea engineer. now in Dubai needing funds to ship machine from China so he can finish his work. Anyone else with the same story?
Sdenka
March 21, 2019
Do you know Kelvin Brown.?..he says he is part of the U.S ARMY..
Gfman
March 21, 2019
Instagram is the worst. Woman posing as retired porn star Avy Scott claims she’s now in Dallas finishing her nursing degree. Says she’s falling in love with me and can’t get me out of her mind. Three weeks of messaging and she wants $400 on an iTunes card because she needs a new washing machine. I’m suspicious so I do some research on Avy Scott and start asking specific questions that she fails to answer. Kept hoping my suspicions were wrong - the heart can cause stupid thinking. Every pic she would send me was professionally shot so I asked for a selfie with her tongue sticking out. I asked her to call me so we could talk and I might verify her claims. Her protests were that her phone’s camera didn’t work (sent me a fake screen shot) and she was too nervous to talk directly to me (porn star too nervous? Lol). Finally sent her an iTunes card for $75 and a specific Best Buy phone/plan to pick up at her local store, told her to take the pic and no more $ until she verified her identity. She never did and the under intense questioning admitted she had been lying. Then she gave me what she claimed was her real name, age and location. Asked her to send me a selfie as I had originally requested and she blew up and walked away. I commented all over her Instagram page to warn others and she took it down today. Lesson - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The heart can cause us to do things that are not rational. Beware of those who say they love you and followup with an urgent request for $$.
Gfman
March 21, 2019
Instagram is the worst. Woman posing as retired porn star Avy Scott claims she’s now in Dallas finishing her nursing degree. Says she’s falling in love with me and can’t get me out of her mind. Three weeks of messaging and she wants $400 on an iTunes card because she needs a new washing machine. I’m suspicious so I do some research on Avy Scott and start asking specific questions that she fails to answer. Kept hoping my suspicions were wrong - the heart can cause stupid thinking. Every pic she would send me was professionally shot so I asked for a selfie with her tongue sticking out. I asked her to call me so we could talk and I might verify her claims. Her protests were that her phone’s camera didn’t work (sent me a fake screen shot) and she was too nervous to talk directly to me (porn star too nervous? Lol). Finally sent her an iTunes card for $75 and a specific Best Buy phone/plan to pick up at her local store, told her to take the pic and no more $ until she verified her identity. She never did and the under intense questioning admitted she had been lying. Then she gave me what she claimed was her real name, age and location. Asked her to send me a selfie as I had originally requested and she blew up and walked away. I commented all over her Instagram page to warn others and she took it down today. Lesson - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The heart can cause us to do things that are not rational. Beware of those who say they love you and followup with an urgent request for $$.
AnotherVictim
March 21, 2019
I am another victim.. same stories... same ideas - money, money, money.... I lost
Bubbagum
March 21, 2019
Hi. My boyfriend’s mom is being scammed by someone similar. They’ve been talking for six months now so she’s pretty committed to him. He asked for a gift card once but luckily she got suspicious and said no. They still talk though and now she thinks he’s for real. I tried many times to tell her but she gets angry. She thinks I’m calling her stupid. She said if it was a scam, she is smart enough to know. Now she doesn’t talk to me about it anymore. I understand that it can be embarrassing to admit. Any suggestions on how to break it to her gently?... without her getting angry and defensive. In case anyone wants to know, he says he’s in the army. He’s doing a peacekeeping mission in Africa. He’s 30 years younger than her but says age doesn’t mean anything to him. He calls her his queen. I noticed a few other stories mentioning that. He’s working on coming back to the states but he has to pay the army first... fees on purchases he made on base there. He already told her twice he was supposed to come. I think he’s going to disappoint her a few more times before he asks her for help on the “fees” so he can come see her.
Ayneo
March 23, 2019

In reply to by Bubbagum

I think if your boyfriend's mum can be persistent and not sending any money, probably she just love that she is having someone to talk to. I know that guy who has been talking to me on Hangout is a scammer, but as long as he did not ask for money or even if he does and i am able to say no, i chose to continue talking to him. But of course, i do take precautions and make sure i keep a clear head. Not because i love to listen to his compliments (i am actually got bored with his compliments) but because i am killing my time with this. Cheers
Bubbagum
March 26, 2019

In reply to by Ayneo

Thanks. I thought of that. She does enjoy talking to him. I just hope she doesn’t give in and send him money.
Beenscamed
March 22, 2019
I'm so thankful for this blog. One thing I notice that the scammers always want to use Google Hangout to chat. I'm going to report James Hudson email jhudson11176 @gmail. com to as many reporting agencies as possible.
Ses1
March 22, 2019
I believe this is the same guy I have been taking to!!! Hes calls himself Bobby Chris, originally Norwegian and now living in New Jersey. Has a 10year old son who lives with his nanny in Italy. He says he is a procurement agent and has got this big contract he had to go to California for and will go to Saudi Arabia on oil rig!! He said he needs a companion to be able to transfer money to as job is so risky and wants to send me money (smelt a rat straight away) !!! I told him no and mentioned money laundering and low and behold he became pretty pissed off. O then told him he was a scammer and came off with "you dont trust me, will you be my wife, I love you etc. I've told him I've a gift for him and asked for his address (I've no intention of sending anything just wanted to see what happened) he gave me an address of meadow country lane, nj! Interesting ......am dying to know is this the same person!
Katherine
March 22, 2019
Been talking and sending money for 4 years to a man named Ray odinario when I looked him up he retired but now peace keeping mission in Syria I think I have been told ever lie here waiting for him to arrive or a package to come a step-child Tommy . Because of who he is he could not come home the proper channels it hurts to read the people that get hurt loose money
Hound dog
March 22, 2019
Watch out for John Robert Smith. He is a scammer. He tried to threaten me but I blocked him. Also ripped me off of $16,000.
ceelopwv
March 22, 2019
So I have been writing a girl that says she’s in Russia near Moscow. She sends me pictures and they are all of the same girl. I reverse google search the images and nothing comes up. We have been talking for about 6 months. She said she is a nurse. She never asks me for money. She wants to meet me. I feel I might be catfished and the girl not be the same person when I arrive or that she is just wanting to get a US visa by marrying me or getting engaged. I don’t know really. I have always wanted to visit Moscow anyway so I will take a shot and go meet this person. Worst case I have a vacation in Russia, best case I end up with a extremely attractive Russian wife. The main reason I’m skeptical is because she can only call, sms, or email me. I would prefer video chat but she says she doesn’t have a PC or internet at her home. She emails me from a cafe. I have been scammed, well not out of money just time, as soon as they ask for money or iTunes cards I block them, but it’s sad to invest the time in getting to know someone when you are genuine and they are scammers. I have thought about asking for her to do something specific in a picture for me and sending it to me. Like hold certain fingers up while holding a sign with something written on it while making a facial gesture. Something where if they are using someone else’s photos they would be unable to reproduce what you ask. I would still rather waste my time with a scammer than a spoiled American girl. I would prefer to find a wife in a impoverished country, they tend to respect and honor someone for giving them a life outside of the poverty they are accustomed to. If this doesn’t work I will fly to the Philippines or somewhere and find me a wife. Hahaha.
Irishwabbit
March 22, 2019
Has anyone ever heard of a Jerome Townsend? Says he is a Commandant in Afghanistan and found me on Facebook. Went to hangouts, has sent 4 different pictures of himself, and I am totally sure is a scam. He wants me to take possession of a piece of his lugfage that he says he put at a website with a diplomatic service but has come to expire. Wants to have it delivered to me to keep, it suppossadly is worth "millions". Catch is I have to pay around $3000 fee due to have it delivered. Boy did he pick the wrong girl for this!!! Every scenario I put to him he rejected then asked me to borrow from a friend. Guess he didnt read half my posts about going into bancruptcy myself over job loss and medical bills. Where can we send a picture to to verify if this guy is really even an officer???
Molly g
March 22, 2019
Pete davolee is on hangout please that a false profile he is a scammer the same picture he claims to be is peter Williams on Facebook he uses his pictures please tell everyone
Bluebird
March 23, 2019
Any body been talking to Austin campton
debbie
March 23, 2019
what is the app that can be used to do image search? Thanks
Alisha John
March 23, 2019
Known three years text online. Won't give me her location, address, but wants me to money. Trust ????
Parbqt
March 24, 2019
Question:. Anyone approached on meetup.com by Robert Harris that says he is a widower retired US Army Sergeant and is now a drilling engineer for Chevron?