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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.

December 31, 2019

In reply to by My name is Julie

Sorry. I just saw this. Yes, that description sounds just like the Dave Belman I chatted with and fell for. From Italy, went to med school in Seattle. Working for the UN in Afghanistan...general surgeon
May 07, 2020

In reply to by Sunshine

A guy (widow) wants to be my friend. Says he is a surgeon for the United Nations. Good looking & about 60. Low & behold, he is a widow with a good looking son. I cannot find a doctor that looks like him. He goes by Charles.
May 15, 2020

In reply to by sonkelvin

I had been speaking with someone for a long time. however, he was many different people and each one had a different personality and loved me so much. I knew it was all fake but I played along for fun and never gave him a dime.
Shy girl 69
February 06, 2019

In reply to by Starhope

He also gies by the name of william moore there from nigiria his age is like 27 he is not the only one that uses that nane its few of them he confessed to me hiw they do it he took like $9.000 threw years saying for sons school.fir flight im still talkibg to him but dont trust him a pit.
Scam Help
October 03, 2020

In reply to by Shy girl 69

Hi! I believe someone I know is talking to this man and now going by David Rogers. Do you have any other information about him? Are you still talking to him?
Shy girl
May 12, 2019

In reply to by Starhope

I have been talking to this exact guy they now how to lie well I'm to go and marry him he confessed the truth he was a scammer a freaind of him called say all I belive a scammer went bad were the stold from called explain. So im sure that's u I was told .now this is the 3rd time poor father has almost died and needs this is fake
June 05, 2019

In reply to by Don't use

Would you mind saying who the military guy says his name is that says he has one little boy and is widowed and is in syria? I am very sorry about your illness also
Caught ya
April 12, 2018

In reply to by Hilary

Was chatting with someone who claimed to be an 'Orthopedic Surgeon' in Yemen. He claims to be in a war zone.Says he has a son named Elvis who is 15 and in boarding school in Germany. He has messed up a few times and said daughter. He said he left his wife because of drugs and she overdosed. He sent me a text saying I was one man in a million and he would always love me for being the sweetest man in the world. LOL Also his Facebook profile had "him" listed as a "she" . Goes by Stephen BLISS and web add. Anneliese Eva Schenk who he claims is his late wife (who had atleast 25 profiles).
Jessi B.
June 06, 2018

In reply to by Caught ya

I had an encounter with a scammer recently. In his case, he was widowed and had a young son. He needed $225.00 for his birthday. He also claimed to be a Sargeant. Many things were off with him. I’m 35 and he is supposed to be a year or so older than me, and he had no clue who popular bands were when we were younger. Also had no family. It also felt off to me to be asked for money so soon after meeting.
June 12, 2018

In reply to by Jessi B.

hi has he sent you pics of himself my sister is talking to a guy who says he is widowed with a young son and his birthday is coming up soon and wants a gift please give me more info about this guy I believe he is scamming her
June 14, 2018

In reply to by glenda

First, let me just say that scammers have gotten Much smarter. Second, and I can't stress this enough, DO NOT EVER SEND MONEY OR OBTAIN ITUNES CARDS FOR ANYONE YOU HAVE NEVER PERSONALLY MET, AS IN FACE TO FACE! No matter HOW persuasive the story sounds. These hideous creatures care only for the money they think they'll get from you. They are smarter, but remain stupid iAd far as their 'bait' stories go. Always the 'beloved dead wife' God bless her soul, and the 'DAUGHTER/SON' they left behind. Tragic. Right. Oh yeah, they are always, ALWAYS, a 'contractor' of some sort, an engineer (insert whatever type you like) on an oil rig or else a military man stationed over seas. DON'T FALL FOR IT! Military personnel need only contact their CO if they have a problem of any kind and guys on oil rigs have similar emergency contact people affiliated with the oil company. You can spot them pretty easily by these stupid (oh and So Sad!) stories. Also, they tend to send you emails that run at least six or seven pages long (that's right) telling you their sorrowful life history. Watch for the grammatical and spelling errors. Come on folks! Americans don't talk that way! It's usually, "hi, how ya doin?" and that's it. As a rule, an American wants to get on the phone with you, ASAP, not text lengthy messages. (Millennials being the exception!) These sadistic goons are brassy, bold, ~ and very, very cunning. Watch out for the symptoms I've described and if you see them, run, don't walk. BLOCK and DELETE!!!! Lonely people are very vulnerable. A show of interest and kind words go a long way. Please, please, PLEASE be careful and don't let these evil vipers ruin your search for a companion. There are lots of good men and women on these sites and when you find one they won't be boring you with lengthy tall tales ~ or asking you for money. Good luck!
June 16, 2018

In reply to by sammisooner

-------1-------- ALEX FRANCIS ON GOOGLE HANGOUTS grrr..I have two back to back experiences with this. They both friended me on facebook and then asked me to talk with them over at google hangouts. The first called himself, Alex Francis. He said he was working for the united nations on an oil rig off the russian coast. Few conversations in..he wanted to quit his job and come be with me. I was to send $1,200.00 to a money place in Georgia addressed to his friend. I hope I saved that conversation in case anyone needs it. Of course I did not send the moneyand blocked him. -------2-------- FRANCIS RON MORGAN ON GOOGLE HANGOUTS He said he was a doctor stationed in Syria. He listed lots of stuff he had, home in Louisiana, mercedes, etc. Did not take many posts for him to love and want to marry me. He sounded like the perfect man. Now he wants me to send him two (2), $100.00 each iTune cards. I don't know what they are, but I don't think I am going to buy and send them. This one hurt. I liked him.
Me too
October 09, 2018

In reply to by SCAMMENOT

Don't send those cards, like I foolishly did. Cut your loss, if any and block and delete, which is my next step. Blessings to you at least we are all not alone and scammed.
November 13, 2018

In reply to by Me too

So I'm new to the online dating scene. I'm 43 recently divorced. I have learned very quickly to have a healthy skepticism when communicating online. Yet even though I'm a newbie even I immediately picked up on some of these people. Within hours of making first contact asking for money for their pay as you go phone. Or the I'll meet and hookup with you but first I need to verify your identity/age, with a credit card of course. And those examples are actually some of the smarter ones. A couple of them started set up the scam in their "Hello" message. But the one that almost got me was a woman who had gone back and forth with for over a week. Not the slightest hint of anything. I'd even gone as far as running her pictures through tineye and digging up her FB account that had been unused for almost 3 years. All checked out, her name, pictures, backstory all consistent with what I uncovered in mu due diligence. Then the other shoe dropped. It was so casual that I almost didn't think twice. It wasn't even a large amount. At most 50 dollars on a gaming card (Steam) for her son. No biggie, ive I've gotten those for my kids. And her a single mom with not much disposable income. Honestly it could have all been on the up and up but timing wise it was not in her favor. Had already been hit up multiple times, so I was on the defensive. Point being believe me I get it. We're just happy to be having interaction with an actual person after all the BS the dating sites put us through with the bots and site monitors with fake profiles. But it felt like a long con and this was just the tip. Single mom, I get it. Doesn't work, I'm single dad of 3 full time. It also came the day after I probably showed my hand and expressed some actual feelings forming. So I've said ALL of that to say this. I have 1 hard and fast rule: no money. Period. Doesn't matter how long we've communicated. If she was for real then we'd be talking still but curiously communication cut off after that. Imhad a woman take all my money for 20 years but at least she was sleeping with me. Lol. Just make that rule, stick to it, and if they are for real they'll understand and accept NO!!
March 16, 2019

In reply to by Me too

I had that exact same problem with the real Dr. Mike Varshavski the famous doctor on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and YouTube. He threatened to ruin my online social media if I didnt send him $1,500 in iTunes gift cards. I hear he is on dating sites looking for a new girlfriend to use for money. Block him if you want to keep your sanity
May 19, 2019

In reply to by Me too

Any doctor has no time to talk on hangout or facebook or Instagram .
December 10, 2018

In reply to by SCAMMENOT

Hi I was wondering Im talking to a man originally on fb friend request then email then hangouts n he tried from his commanders phone to face time me but says connection was weak n tried some more but didn’t work he says he’s a god fearing man n doesn’t lie I’ve been talking to him since aug 7 and I sent not a lot of money but not to Iraq where he says he’s stationed he says his commander is in Nigeria on a mission n he can’t leave the barracks because he trains n patrols two weeks ago he said he was sending me a lot of money n gold they found n said it was legit he is in Iraq n im in the us he sent a receipt n tracking number and now it says on hold in customes in turkey n he says I need to fix this for us that it can’t get seized or I’ll go to jail because he gave my address the place is saying there’s a fee of 3,167 dollars which I was going to send because he said because he’s not a citizen of Iraq he had someone who is send the packages out now he’s saying if I don’t get his goods that are for us to have a good life they will come for me n my family n I’m scared what do I do he goes by his email Libby08 @ gmail. com and hoodlibby333 @ gmail. com he says his first name is hood and has an 8 year old daughter Sarah can anyone help me here to know if he’s a scammer and if customes will come to my house if they seize what he sent I don’t understand though why if it was from Iraq to us is it in turkey please help
FTC Staff
December 10, 2018

In reply to by Princess7169

This sounds like a scam. He's trying to scare you into sending money. There are other comments on this blog with similar stories. If you send money once, scammers try to get more of your money. They make up complicated stories that are totally false, and try to convince you to pay money for shipping, taxes, fees or other charges. You don't have to send money or pay anyone. He did not really find gold and he is not shipping it to you.

June 11, 2020

In reply to by Princess7169

Hi Princess7169. I don’t know if you’re still on this forum. I think we talked to the same man. Could we contact each other somehow and compare these scammers?
January 02, 2019

In reply to by SCAMMENOT

Hi there! Did this Alex Francis ever send you his picture? I’ve been chatting with a guy who is working on an oil drilling station and wondering if they’re one and the same.
April 12, 2019

In reply to by Tiredofscams

Yes ....did his rig catch on fire and he needed money to fix it so he can retire and come buy a house for you. And bring his 10 year old daughter who has been in boarding school
April 12, 2019

In reply to by Augustina

Sounds to me like a guy I've been talking too! Engineer oil rig explosion, needs 20,000 to fix , blah, blah blah....met on POF. I'm a cheapo n love Should not cost so Send Him Nothing!!
life is to short
September 07, 2018

In reply to by sammisooner

james morgan, he living next week to go to west africa , bet he need money for something, Here another one Jeff Miller he was in army they sent him back to but he didn't open his acct. before going west africa to get his daughter so i need to send 5000, so they both can come home to me. HAHAHA. AND then got Dennis brooks who when to who went Malaysia to bluid a solor plant for them just ask me too send him 100. itune card cause his app. are out .. not happening. and we have Walker Martin who is syria come home in month and wants to married me .and we have christian george he been hang in the longest want me to pay for vacation from the oil rig he on in itlay.. yall please careful they are some fast talking men out there and when talk to them on phone on one of them sound like they from the states.......
December 26, 2018

In reply to by life is to short

omg I didn't know I wasn't the only one dealing with this. A lot of girls I met on the internet would act like they want to see me, I'd send them money for plane tickets and other fares...and they'd take it and leave. I am so sick of being treated like this, and some of them were fake, some were REAL that I verified but were terrible people, some were openly admitting of being a straight male trying to make money, even screenshotted me bank account numbers from all the money they make off of people's misfortune, it makes me sick that I have to work myself into poverty at a trashy job and these people mentioned sometimes make THOUSANDS a month even tens of thousands, doing this. I didn't even know you could report these people and next time I see it happen I will get them in trouble so fast it's not even funny. I also am resigning from relationships that start online with intentions of real life, so unless someone allows me to just pay for the ticket and fare myself, and go see them at a public place, and make sure they are real, I am truly done. I've gotten thousand stolen from me
Bae Magnolia.
February 17, 2019

In reply to by songoftheblackening

I am a female and like you, have had problems analyzing who are scams or not in so many dating apps. But Im still hopeful. What to do,!!!!! Lol
January 21, 2019

In reply to by life is to short

James Morgan is scamming my grandmother right now. He is apparently German (has an accent) but lives in Pennsylvania. He is some kind of geology engineer and sells/buys gems and jewels. Travels to Africa a lot and has an orphanage there. He wants to retire with my grandmother in Miami after his contract in Africa is complete.
February 18, 2019

In reply to by annoyedatscammers

I’m talking to a guy that has German accent who lives in Pennsylvania also.
February 21, 2019

In reply to by annoyedatscammers

OMG. Since January 9th, I've been dealing with a James Morgan! He PM'd me on IG. I'd never given guys the time of day on there, but out of curiosity, I replied to him; almost immediately, he asked me to download the Google Hangouts app, saying his iPhone was touchy and Hangouts was more reliable. Long story short, he claimed to be from San Diego, CA and is a 'Contractor,' even sending me before/after pics of a kitchen & bathroom he remodeled. Within a week of communicating, all of a sudden, he gained a contract job in Istanbul, Turkey and that he was going to make a bunch of money, so he could come meet me in person, blah blah blah...He conned me I to purchasing $300 worth of iTunes cards, because he was out of the country and needed data to be able to do work from his iPhone. THEN he was supposedly traveling to pick up 10 million dollars worth of gold in London, that he supposedly inherited from his late father. He went so far as sending me a pic of himself smiling in some warehouse, then about 8 suitcases full of gold bars, with a scale on the floor in front of them. I asked him how he planned to transport that back to the states...It went down to his supposedly getting arrested at the London Airport for not having the proper documents to claim the gold, nor money to pay the tax on said gold. Some woman claiming to be an attorney representing him, messaged me in the middle of the night through WhatsApp, telling me that James was arrested, why, and that she was going to have to come up with 53,000 in UK money to bail him out. This was over 2 weeks ago at this point and now he's supposedly out of prison, but needs $1200 to get back to the states. He's been trying to convince me that he's real, to the point of sending me a pic of his passport. Funny thing is, he can't keep his info. straight; told me weeks ago that his birthday is April 3rd and that he's going to be 43; his passport says November 19, 1974 as being his birthdate. I'm so over it. I wanted so badly to believe he wasn't scamming me.
Doreen Allen
March 01, 2019

In reply to by annoyedatscammers

This sounds like a guy who I am talking to at the mo. Says he deals in precious metals / diamonds etc. The dating site says he’s living in Glasgow. He tells me he is German and he’s asked me for my contact number but I have given it to him He was on eHarmony but he has been removed. Do you have a photo of him. The phot j have ov him is in shorts with a tennis racket and one of him on a beach. Says he is 64yts old and 6ft 2”. A good looking guy but my hunches are being proved right.
March 04, 2019

In reply to by Doreen Allen

I think I am being scammed by Jason bill. Has German connections and now after 2 months wants money. May be your same scsmmet
Annoyed by scammers
September 05, 2020

In reply to by life is to short

I have a James Morgan, and a Richard Williams talking to me on hangouts! They both messaged me whilst playing scrabble. Both are engineers on rigs! They have both sent me photos, both were quick to tell me they love me after a few days. Richard keeps telling me I’m his love and James keeps calling me his Queen!! I was a bit wary from the start and noticed a few inconsistencies in their stories. It came to a head for me 2 nights ago when I dropped onto conversation that my daughter had seen James’ msgs lol. That night he said the rig was turning the WiFi off and he needed to continue to speak to his daughter who is in Texas. He said he needs money, so I said ok how much do you need and he said £300 amazon voucher! Not quite sure what an amazon voucher is going to do for the WiFi!! I said I would see what I could do. After that he was asking for sexy pics lol. He didn’t get any and I haven’t spoken to either of them since! Richard hasn’t asked for anything yet, has no children but is a man of god!! I haven’t spoken to him and won’t ever again.
Me too
October 09, 2018

In reply to by sammisooner

I wish I had known or read your blog sooner than last night while doing research. Very informative. Thank you (even though too late).
November 16, 2018

In reply to by sammisooner

I have been talking with someone who says he is from the USA but is in West Africa on a job...Civil Engenieer. We have had long conversations, he has sent me pics and told me about himself. No sob stories, but he said it was very dangerous over there. He did ask me to get him a 50.00 iTunes card and I immediately said NO. He said, is okay no problem. He is still txting me but wants more pics of me. Is this a delete and block?
Don't use your…
November 18, 2018

In reply to by unsure

I also have been talking to a guy says he's from Texas and is in west africa.can I asked u is he's name Grady Monroe or GRADY MONROE Clement?
February 03, 2019

In reply to by unsure

I have been having the similar story. Seems all nice when you say you cant send it but it seems anything and everything has went wrong. From his machine breaking down and cant finish the job to he has been in the hospital and cant get his passport back..jhst wondering if this could be the same person. I have met him on POS
no name
February 26, 2019

In reply to by unsure

Sounds like the same guy i've been talking to. his name is david brown, originally from new york. currently stationed in west africa and due to return in 2-3 months. we have exchanged pics. he asked if i could get an itunes gift card for him. sent me snap shots that itunes requires $50 or $100 for 2 weeks of service. he threatened to send my pics to his friends to exploit me. i haven't given one dime. said he loved me and wanted to be with me. i should have trust my gut and not continued to talk to him.
March 13, 2019

In reply to by no name

We have a similar story, do you mind sending me his picture to see if this is the same man I have sent thousands too!!!
March 16, 2019

In reply to by no name

I have been talking to a David Martins who says he is from Seattle and is working for 7 weeks in Cape Town as an engineer. no sob stories or anything yet but his voice does not match his pictures he says he is German and pics bear that out but his voice and sometimes his choice of words very suspect.
March 29, 2021

In reply to by jj

I have been communicating with a David Martins from Albany, GA who went away to Egypt for a work assignment and is always asking for bank account information and itunes gift cards. He is seeking to get treasures from his father that passed away in Kenya. Could this be the same person. He is a fair complexion nice looking with a beard sometimes.
December 05, 2018

In reply to by glenda

The same here,a guy on IG sent me a message saying that he was a widow with a son 13yo no family dr in Afghanistan need end his contract early,because he is scared of dying there e leave his son.His name on IG is: van.david9 a 48 years old dr with a black and gray beard.He asked me for iTunes gift card of $200.00 and them he said he gave to his Fellow drs if I could send more which I did,total $400.00 and then he said his son's birthday was coming and he couldn't send anything for him if I could send an make it short now he asked me for $5,500.00 to pay for his release earlier from his contract in Afghanistan,also asked me to download hangouts app.
December 06, 2018

In reply to by glenda

First contacted on November 25'18 I think it is the same guy I had been talking to,his name on Instagram is van.david9 he was widower for 5 years with a 13yo son his name Henry.When I asked wife's cause of death he said car accident.He said he was from Netherlands and lived in Amsterdam,was a military dr deployed in Afghanistan.Soon he asked me to get Hangouts app and asked for my email to add me,also ask for pictures of myself.He said that the war was getting closer to his medical camp and he was afraid of dying without meeting me and leaving his son,he said he had no family.So he said he was there for 5 months out of 7 and he had to pay U$5,500.00 to be released from his contract and go back home to his son and me to spend Christmas.He also asked me to go to Walmart or apple store and get iTunes cards of $200 which I did and then said he helped a fellow dr with 2 cards $50 each later on asked for more so he could watch movies when he was bored,total:$400.00 on iTunes cards.When I confront him abt scams and not been the guy from profile he made a video and sent to me,which I have.I asked him for the bank info pretending I would send the money, he sent it also,I found out a little late that I was getting scammed and told him,blocked him on ig,deleted hangouts, but lost $400.00 I have bank info he gave me BB&T addressed in Atlanta,when I asked abt why a bank in USA he said honey UN sent me here and it is in America,because Americans rule the world. He was very polite and when called I could notice his strong accent and poor English,but the man in the video was very handsome,tall,dark skin and similar to the man from the profile pictures,but I learned that the pics belongs to a real dr from Brazil that might no been aware of this whole situation.
March 13, 2019

In reply to by Patricia

I believe we are talking about the same man, can you please send me a photo for I am talking to this man now and have spent several thousand dollars !!!!!!