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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 ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

A woman looking at a dating site on her computer.

13794 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.

Sadie The clea…
August 04, 2021

In reply to by Lied to

I ve been talking to a bloke on hangout. On FB he was James Brown and in hangout he was James Williams. Says he's a military dr in Yemen. Originally from Las Vegas. Has a son Alex 16 yrs old and his wit died of breast cancer 6 years ago. Claimed he wants to be with me only after talking for two days
Lied to
September 13, 2020

In reply to by Heart-broken a…

Heart broken, I’ve been playing a James Walker on wwf Since Covid-19 started. First all nice about playing the game and then kept trying to get me on hangouts. That’s when I knew he was up to no good. I decided to play along and see how far he would take it. When I wouldnt give in he started sending me sweet poems and then eventually said he loved me and if I would except his proposal on wwf chat. I never returned the feelings and that bothered him but it didn’t stop him from asking me for iTunes gift card and say how much he loved me. I went silent and so did he but that only lasted a few days. Then he’d act as though everything was fine. He’s asked for an amazon card so he could by a book collection. Again I ignored him. Finally I said to do what I do and get a book from the library. Quiet for a few days but back again with the hey love etc.. he has no conscience. I feel bad for all the women he has scammed.
unbelievable
September 27, 2020

In reply to by Heart-broken a…

I can’t believe this happened to me. I was being scammed by this same guy. I met him on TikTok and he got me on google hangouts. Civil engineer with a 14 years old daughter, wife died, daughter was playing these games that needed iTunes cards. I have lost so much money before I realized that it was a scam. I have since deleted app and blocked his number. He has all my information, I have changed all bank cards. I hope he will get caught.
MeatHead
November 24, 2021

In reply to by unbelievable

Ladies and Gentlemen it too ok me a good solid year to figure out I was being scammed not 1 or 2 or 3 not all got money but did lose a few bucks. This one guy wants me to open Crypto account or just give him my banking information. I honestly thought about taking my own life. Just humiliating embarrassed and no knows about it. Hang in there all at least you all know how it feels. Oh the police laughed at me. Great nail in the coffin. Pun intended have to find humor somewhere
Eleanor
January 24, 2022

In reply to by unbelievable

This is very similar to my story (ongoing) is there any way you could send me a picture somehow. He claims his name is Henry Williams. Partner died in car accident and he’s got no family apart from his daughter.
I’m so stupid also
October 30, 2020

In reply to by Heart-broken a…

I’m so sorry, these scammers are ruthless and don’t care one bit about us, only our money. I almost lost my husband over a romance scammer. I will pray for both of us. Lol
Vinamarie
November 18, 2020

In reply to by Heart-broken a…

A Similar thing happened to me few weeks ago. This guy friends me on Instagram, says his name is Adrian Gerald; from Flushing , NY. A Sargent Major in the army , stationed in Kabul in a peace keeping mission,. he says his wife died 4 years ago in a car accident. He has a young son. His parents also died when he was in his teens. He grew up in Denmark and has a Danish accent. He asked me to communicate with him on Hangouts. But I was skeptical from the start. I asked him like a 100 questions and he had answers for all of them. So I just went along with it to see where it went. He called me and even video chatted from google hangouts . I didn’t realize it was scam until he asked me to buy him a plane ticket so he could leave the duty and come home for Thanksgiving, Christmas. He said he wanted to retire from the army and settle down and he didn’t want to be away from his son . When I said No I can’t buy you a ticket . He started begging me, he started crying and was totally an emotional wreck. I thought this guy was nuts.... But I said no way , and I told him that he was an imposter and I was going to report him. Then he started getting all defensive . I ended up blocking him in Instagram, Google Hangouts and in my phone list. I did report it to FTC complaints and I did report the account to Instagram as a scammer. He gave such a believable story and had all the right answers. That anyone could easily get fooled by this. Please be careful everyone !
wonderingG
January 24, 2021

In reply to by Vinamarie

Does anyone have this guy's picture ? he sounds familiar
Anne
April 19, 2021

In reply to by wonderingG

I have his pictures as he scammed me, I’m so stupid. I don’t know how stupid I got to believing this guy
plainjane
February 09, 2021

In reply to by Vinamarie

I have the same experience too! A certain Dr. Mark Lee added me on Instagram and we then chatted through Line. I was really skeptical because he appeared to be too good to be true- he said he’s half-Korean half-Japanese and is an orthopedic surgeon stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan. He also told me about his past relationship, saying he was cheated and whatnot. Out of boredom I played by him and will stop if he asks money. Then the moment of truth arrived: he said he got wounded and he asked me to email a certain “flight embassy” and arrange a plane ticket for him so he can come to Tokyo. I was really amazed and disturbed at the same time. These scammers are so smart and they really know how to flirt women. I already reported it though and I hope no one will be scammed by them.
TERRYon't use …
December 28, 2020

In reply to by Heart-broken a…

Yep I am currently talking to him. He is James Williams with a so. Named Kelvin. Lives in Santa Monica and son being taken care of by a teacher. Right now he is supposedly at Heathrow Airport with an expired passport and trying to get home to be with me. I have a pic of his passport
Reville Munster
July 15, 2021

In reply to by TERRYon't use …

I'm talking to a Michael Henry & he has a, son named Kelvin also & his being taking care of by his teacher. Do you have his pic?
Natalie
July 24, 2021

In reply to by Reville Munster

Any one knows a Sergeant Joshua Harris , station in South Korea . From IG
Helen 84't use…
September 01, 2021

In reply to by Reville Munster

Sounds like the guy I'm talking to, 59 yrs of age, retired Surgeon in Syria, son called Kelvin in Boarding school in Texas. The photo he uses is set in from a supposedly Syrian building, he is dressed in what looks like a black pilots rig, coupd be wrong, has glasses on his head, grey haired and macho. The usual, claimed he loves me blah blah asked me to send a letter to the contracting company he works for in Syria and say I'm his fianceè and l need him to come to me immed as l am ill and need him, then pay for his airfare to come to Australia, when l said no after telling me his heart is broken and he can't live anymore when l still refused he told me to go the hell. He is very charming , bad english told me he was spanish American
Reville Munster
November 01, 2021

In reply to by Helen 84't use…

No this guy said he's in Saudi Arabia. Have you got a, pic of him?
Stupid gullibl…
January 04, 2022

In reply to by Reville Munster

I have been writing a guy for almost 2 years. He is a swedish man who grew up in Sweden. He finished his contractor job on the UK and his flight landed in Amsterdam because of a flight member dying on the plain from covid. So everyone on the plane were quarantined for 2 weeks. In the mean time the American Embassy "lost"James passport. He was trying to get home to Georgia. Then he got covid and was sick for 2 months. Now that he is well, he said that every covid test he takes says that he is still positive for covid. So he can't fly back to the United States.
Reville Munster
October 31, 2021

In reply to by TERRYon't use …

Does anyone have a photo of this Michael Henry guy? Thanks
El
January 17, 2022

In reply to by Reville Munster

Hi I was wondering if you had a picture of who was scamming you? I believe I am being scammed by the same person.. sort seems very similar although the name I’ve been given is Henry Williams
Gmv1964
August 15, 2020

In reply to by Dee

Yes do you have a picture of him and what mane did he give you sounds like the one I was dealing with
Ruth2021
February 24, 2021

In reply to by Gmv1964

He sent me a picture but it's from one of the guys on are police dept. This guy also made friends with a bunch of people off my friend list. Told me he had a 11yr old son was going by james williams
Justneedtoknow
March 28, 2021

In reply to by Ruth2021

Please post your picture..I've talked to a James Williams also
Brazilnor
December 12, 2021

In reply to by Justneedtoknow

Had a James William asked to follow me on Instagram. Sent pictures. Stated wife died sons in boarding school. He says he’s a chief mechanical engineer contract in Oslo Norway. Does this sounds like anyone that has been scammed
Lynn96
April 28, 2021

In reply to by Ruth2021

Do you have a picture of James? Or can you tell me how to see a picture you posted. Sounds like guy I’ve been talking to for some time. Thanks
Trenee
August 20, 2021

In reply to by Lynn96

I have a friend that is talking to the same guy. She sent me a picture of the guy
Manas
September 02, 2021

In reply to by Lynn96

Yeah. Even i got a text from instagram named James williams.
Stupid gullibl…
January 04, 2022

In reply to by Lynn96

The James I am talking to is from Sweden and lives in Georgia....or so he says. He's stuck in Amsterdam now because of Covid. How would I get a photo on here?
Icyhot
October 31, 2021

In reply to by Ruth2021

The names and photos don't matter. They change photos and names all the time. Oil rig men and surgeons and generals do not need to meet random women.
Magda
November 02, 2020

In reply to by Dee

I think I am being scammed . A guy called Chris Alex msged me on Instagram then asked me to msg him on what’s app. I have a gut feeling it is a scam He hasn’t asked for money yet Has anyone been scammed by him
ErinInstaLove
December 06, 2020

In reply to by Magda

I have been talking to a Chris or Christian Balms from Instagram That did kind of the same thing we talked for a little bit on Instagram and then asked for my number or if I had WhatsApp.. He supposedly lives in Chicago and has been texting me but the number to register is to a landline in Oklahoma.
DJinSC
March 23, 2021

In reply to by ErinInstaLove

Yes, Christian Rodriguez Balms. “Living in Summerville, SC. Daughter, Lisa staying with her grandma in Atlanta. Ex wife is Alex Mayer living in Texas. Due to have a 40 day contract in Russia as a mechanical engineer.” Poor English and phone number is also 405 area code. Woman answered. Met online.
Cazz
September 07, 2021

In reply to by Magda

A guy called Chris Alex has just messaged me on Instagram and wanted to chat on hangouts. He works on an oil rig. Asks a lot of questions and wants to be best friends. Was he a scammer. I have my suspicions.
Generaleenobody
August 17, 2020

In reply to by Jackie

Just got a scammer recorded call not a live body from 2 telephone numbers 8582214572 and 7602849982 both were the same recorded voice but different numbers and the recorded voice wants to sell me a extended automobile warranty and I am on a do not call list
LiveSmartOrLearnHard
September 06, 2020

In reply to by Generaleenobody

The national DoNotCall list is for legitimate US businesses. Obviously, scammers don't pay attention to laws. Hard to catch and prosecute since most are foreign and they simply keep rotating new numbers and trying different scam messages.
Concernedgirl
November 24, 2020

In reply to by Generaleenobody

I've been getting this same message from many different numbers for about a year.
myra
August 20, 2020

In reply to by Jackie

I had been talking to someone who said he was divorced from his wife since 2015, he said his name is Majid he had asked for money from itune he start off telling me that he will buy me a car and that he has 12 cars, Then he wanted me to open a account but I didn't then he said his bank account was frozen also telling me he is a big star. but he was working from Africa always saying he will show but never did got feed up and had words for him, but now he said he is in the usa but I know it was something not right with him, yes you can get your heart broken , I have broken it off with him several time. I told him if he don't do what's right nothing good will come. yes you get afraid to speak up and I am still somewhat afraid they say nothing will happen. and yes he pray for me on several times, but now I feel sick. because I fell for his lies but I think his name is jose as well. he has like a Spanish way of talking but I also heard someone call him billy
Amanda
September 19, 2020

In reply to by Jackie

Jackie. I think your guy is my guy. Three weeks ago, Steve Noirac, friended me on Word Buddies. I commented on his picture with his 8 year old daughter, Janet. This began the Hangouts conversations. He said he is a crane operator on an offshore drilling rig in Nova Scotia. Claims to be Belgian with the daughter living with a tutor in Atlanta, Georgia. As things heated up, I began to send things in Spanish by using Google Translate. He returned my messages in Spanish. Before the request for money yesterday for his daughter’s birthday in November, I would ask for details of the rig, which one it was and asked for him to tell me things he did at work. He could never provide anything and switched subjects. I feel stupid. He asked for money, and I don’t have it to give. Not a cool thing.
Davina13
November 08, 2020

In reply to by Amanda

Have you a picture of this guy. I'm involved with a oil rig contactor out in Brazil. I have sent money.
Angievicky
April 01, 2021

In reply to by Dello123

Venezuela. Goes by David. Says he’s a doctor. Stuck in China, widowed. Kids live here in the states with a nanny. He’s stuck in China with no identification and the embassy will help him get back but he needs money cuz accounts here were frozen
Dawn74
April 22, 2021

In reply to by Angievicky

Omg !!! I am talking to the same guy ! He says the kids names ate Alicia & Henry
Dawn74
April 22, 2021

In reply to by Angievicky

So the exact same story to a T ....he seems so romantic & caring ....Anyway he originally said he was doing a surgery over in Dubai and then went to Beijing China to get a da Vinci robot and then his bank account was frozen so he needed to get money to ship the robot back and to get himself home. He had a pretty good storyline all figured out but as soon as he asked me for money we definitely spoke for almost 3 months I knew it was a scam.....And now seeing your post that just confirms it...I did not end up giving him money at all he was asking for money to be transferred to a bank account and then he was asking for steam cards and then also Google play store cards
Pygscooby1
January 20, 2022

In reply to by Dawn74

Omg I have a friend in Dallas who got the exact same story from a guy except that he said he was an OB/gyne doing research off an island in Russia.
Chris
May 16, 2022

In reply to by Dawn74

Yes. That is what happens me. I ended up buying him steam cards and Google play cards. In all I changed my phone number

ArmyMama
July 08, 2021

In reply to by Angievicky

I know a David Jones. He asked me to send some money in bitcoins to his kids through his agent. Once I money I said and he said he was going to find another friend. Them weeks later he asked for Steam card. I so again and again he said ok. He hasn’t asked for anything else. However since I saw that lady who met up with her guy and he stole from her I stared thinking if that’s what is waiting for. He says in the military and keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Any David Jones out there?
Cryonboi
August 09, 2021

In reply to by ArmyMama

This sounds like a guy was asking for only bitcoin .he even gave the location where to buy it near me. Said his name was Henri A Bousguet an antique deal from. France and lived in Oregon. He sent me a copy of a passport & pictures . He used a burner number 860 are code for this scam. I did some research and traced the scam to new Hampshire to a home with 14 phone numbers