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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.

Dumb Woman 70
September 29, 2019

In reply to by Becky Sue

Yes I have been talking with Jacob Leo Marco since 5/18. Same story as you have listed above. Son is now suppose to be in Ghana going to school there age 16.
Dumb Woman 70
October 11, 2019

In reply to by Bundy561

I do not think he is Jacob Williams he pretty much sticks to Jacobleo Marco
Not falling for it
February 06, 2021

In reply to by Bundy561

Let me guess he's not who he says he is
June 06, 2018

In reply to by YittaCA

Yes this guy went on my timeline, and ask to be a friend, I have never excepted this sort of thing before, After a few days chatting on messenger, he almost demanded that I get him a iPhone X to keep our friendship strong. I have blocked him now, another Con Man
Denise Dy
January 05, 2019

In reply to by YittaCA

Recently was contacted by a man, sentpics from. Facebook, that's how he met me. Claims to hAve contract work in the sea which was to be complete on Jan etc, sell him big hone in ITaly and come to meet me cuz knows I.his soul mate. Got paid !860,££0 for contract, but can only get lite over $+30,0£ from his bank cuz his big machine is now broken. He can't believe I can't send a measly $15,000 to him so he can race hone and marry me and We can be together. Dropped him . 3rd to be a scammer for me. My husband just passed away in April. Do I really need all this now??
July 16, 2017

In reply to by Unsure in texas

Yes, someone asked me for an iTunes card also. Was posing as an army person as well.
July 29, 2017

In reply to by Kla

The military has programs to help these men out. I have reading a lot of this messages on this board. And. I looked some thing s up about bank account and ids and weddings, and green cards and more. If a person does not have a green card , they use women to come to us the military has a emerancey program for the man and has far has needing money to come home the military will fly them home.also becareful How you speak to them . Good luck
August 04, 2017

In reply to by Private

There is a man supposedly in Malaysia with a German accent, using the image of Dr Richard Cravatts (very handsome). This scammer uses the name Henrik Markus, has a sick 11 yr old son in England, just had brain surgey. He says he has a contract with Petronas Oil and now cannot leave the country due to a tax issue. Yes, I sent him money, in spite of all the Western Union warnings. I opened a bank acct, too. How foolish for a highly educated, divorced woman. If they dont skype or facetime-BIG WARNING ladies. Id like to shout from the mountain tops but right now Im defeated, hurt and angry.
August 07, 2017

In reply to by Shellbell54

Shellbell54, youre not alone! I spent more than you did in spite of WU and money gram warnings. I lost evry single cent and plenty of loans just to send to this fake military. I am a highly educated woman but been blind. Now, I am beginning a nwe life after losing hundreds of $$$$.Nothing left but loans with high interest rates only went to theses criminals. What a life but we need to move on. Lesson learned...Never trust a stranger. Good luck and be blessed.
March 25, 2018

In reply to by Thanks17

Omg I feel same met one and he always had a story I put myself out from him till it almost cost me
May 08, 2018

In reply to by Thanks17

Dear thanks17 and Shellbell54.I am also high educated and trusted an egyptian man. I send money via Forex. So stupid of mee, but we are people that trust....
February 27, 2018

In reply to by Shellbell54

can you please forward the messages and mails he sent you? talking to a suspect right now
March 20, 2018

In reply to by Shellbell54

I met Peter k. Sullivan from Northampton, MA stuck in Turkey he said for taxes for a job done and the turkish gov't keep adding interest and gets moneygram and western union through Kenya.
August 02, 2018

In reply to by Ssabh

Peter also goes by Kirk Heffernan Sullivyn, Sully. Divorced has 2 children Michelle and Luke. Luke has cancer. Peter got robbed 2 times. Always stuck the day he had to return to New York. He was stuck in Amsterdam and had to go back to Turkey.
September 14, 2018

In reply to by Ssabh

Hello. I have been communicating with a Thomas Downs who was suppose to return to the US (Tampa, FL) but supposedly was delayed in Amsterdam and robbed. May I ask if the person you are referring to has an accent?
March 23, 2018

In reply to by Shellbell54

Really sorry about all this when someone ask you for money and itunes card online that you never meet in person DO NOT send
August 02, 2018

In reply to by Shellbell54

I am a US Veteran. Military can get a free ride home or any US Citizen can go to a US Embassy and get a free ride home. These 419 Nigarian scammers come up with all types of stories to get money. They should all be caught and punished for what they do.
August 31, 2017

In reply to by Kla

a guy name Leslie H Dawson on instagram was asking for ITunes cards also before he says he is in us army
Female from wi…
February 07, 2018

In reply to by Kla

Im wanting to find out the names of the Sgt Army men ive been talking with one for some time and ive sent over 500 dollars to this person and i dnt knw if he is real or not... His name is richard helseth from new york im hoping that some one reads this and can answer my question to ... Mine just contacted me a month ago 1/2018
February 23, 2018

In reply to by Kla

I just meet men 5 days ago on dating site FIRSTMET his name is Romain Hendrickx (Hi has very strong accent )after 4 days he asked me for iTunes card not less than 300$
March 26, 2018

In reply to by Ella

I met a guy, in 1/2018. Supposedly working in Crete but having a residence in PA. Heavy German accent. Very willing to relocate, and professing love too quickly.I stopped before anything happen. The interesting thing is that I just met another man, different site, with heavy German accent. Both men present as widowers with a daughter and living in PA.Both have businesses. I wonder if the second one is real or another fake.
Don't use your…
June 05, 2019

In reply to by Kla

I was asked to buy $100 steam card from my credit card. It was to be used to help get my friend home from the oil rig, Then without me knowing they put money in my card so another steam card could be purchased... guess what,,, that money was no good, so I now am over the limit with my credit card(which due to low credit score, took me awhile to obtain!) I cannot pay the excess balance so I now have no credit card again!!! I called the credit card company to find out the name and info on check or credit card used, but they said I could not have that information!!!! WHY?? The continued purchase of the steam cards was to help pay his way home.
September 23, 2017

In reply to by Unsure in texas

I had the same thing happen to me, he said he is in Iraq in the army. Asked for a Itunes card.
November 02, 2017

In reply to by Unsure in texas

I just started to talk to Military guy David W Tucker talks about man n wife died. Left at early age had a 2yr old daughter. We started off just getting to know each other the got a little serious then asked for Itune card for invest in trading something about a sub card and apps? Used Fortex. My real military friend said to ask for unit number and where he stationed at forboot camp. My friend is going to look him up. It will suck if he is a scam. He found me on FB.
December 09, 2017

In reply to by 23worried

Please do not fall for him. He also goes by another name.
Amber c
February 12, 2018

In reply to by Amber c

Me too amber. Do you have his profile pictures? Did he told you he is widowed with 2 kids?
April 03, 2018

In reply to by Worried

Met a guy online too he was military and widower has a son in the East coast . We chatted quite a while now he is telling mw he needs to move money thru diplomatic foreign service I sense thithis is a scam as he wants me to trust him what should I do?

FTC Staff
April 03, 2018

In reply to by Confused

Some scammers use people to help them transfer stolen money. They meet people online, create a relationship, and ask their new sweetheart to use their bank account, or open a new account. The scammer asks their new friend to receive and transfer money.

If you do this for a scammer, your name is on the bank account and on the money transfer forms. If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.

I am hurt
June 23, 2018

In reply to by Worried

I met someone on facebook and we are chatting about 3 weeks now and said he has this business things to do with cars he ask me if i can help him with 3700usd,i havent seen him on cam yet but he sends pictures to me.i wonder why.when i told him i cant help,he just said he will do anything to get his cars just rob or kidnap he also send me his phone number he is from chicago.anyone can help me now? Thank you...
February 16, 2018

In reply to by 23worried

I was curious if you heard of guy says name is Kyle wheeler says he is a USA military guy has asked for iTunes cards a lot wants to talk on phone but have to send money to talk $350.00 to western union to oluwashola name David oluwole,state-Abu Dhai country-United Arab Emirates .I have not sent money yet to talk on phone but I did I tune card how do u know if real as the person
March 18, 2018

In reply to by 49Worried

I have similar experience, asking for itunes and money to be sent to someone in the US. Weve been talking in skype, google hangouts and whatsapp. Relocated from US to Europe to work after losing his family to an accident. Currently reassigned to UAE he got a Dubai sim card and been using whatsapp with it. He sounds too good to be true and genuine on the phone. Has strong accent . His been sending pictures (his baby pics, his army training pics and recent pics). His working in a highly classified task force.. Anyone with the same story?
May 30, 2018

In reply to by Naive

Hello Could u tell me more? This story sounds very familiar
February 09, 2018

In reply to by Unsure in texas

I meet them all day saying the same seems like Im talking to the same person over and over its funny cause as soon. As they ask for money for they're sick mother they send you a sexy picture of themselfs then I tell them that i don't send money they quit talking to
February 26, 2018

In reply to by Art

Uh huh. The most important thing to remember is that as soon as ANYONE you HAVE NEVER MET in person starts asking you for money, walk away, fast and don't look back. There are plenty of real men out there looking for relationships. They won't be asking you for money either.
February 28, 2018

In reply to by sammisooner

Someone friend requested me on fb. I leave it just like that just cause i didnt even know this guy, then a few days after, theres notification says ‘someone has waited for you to accept his friend request’... so i thought he knew me, i clicked ‘accept’ and we have been texting for a few days, and he asked for my number, and i give him without a thought(stupid i know) and now, it has been like a day, he hasnt text me and his fb is not active anymore. What do you guys think? Is he a scammer? Or fake? Im afraid that he’ll hack me since i give him my number :(
April 14, 2018

In reply to by fafa

No one can hack you by just giving them your number, just don’t click on any links or things he sends. If you did you can just reset your phone to factory settings
April 29, 2018

In reply to by Art

Yes it blows my mind how they all say the same thing and they all ask for same stuff and I tell them the same thing I won’t send money or by I tunes or set up any accounts I tell them they need an account I’ll get them a prepaid card and put in their name because I’m not
Burnt on line..
June 14, 2018

In reply to by Unsure in texas

I hope some one told you not to send iTunes that's the number one proof that they're using you for scamming
May 17, 2016

In reply to by FTC Staff

I have been in same situation. His name used was duhon donald lee jr. Stated he was sgt in Us army. Widowed with a daughter. Stated wife died when stationed in SA and that his daughter is there in boarding school. Said did not have access to money. Asked if i could send money to nanny sister as she was going there. So stupidly sent money to new york for his daughter birthday.

Than he began asking for bank info. Stated he wanted to make a trasfer from his bank. He tried to get my ss number and acct number. Bank said he only neede swift code number. He transferred money. Bank said it cleared. Than two days later bank wanted money back. Stated dep. Made from stolen checks. He said it must of been an error and he would clear it up.

Please all beware of anyone asking for bank info. His English was very good when texting and no accent when talking on phone. I trusted him and awaited for him to get the bank straightened out. He than asked for more money for his daughter. At this point asked for his military email. He gave me an email with different name. At this point i blocked him.

June 07, 2016

In reply to by donand2015

Hi. My mother is going through a similar experience. She's not sure if the man she is talking to is real... robyn leigh steadman. Her story is almost same as yours, she has sent him a lot of money already, mostly for his daughter who is going to boarding school in Africa (or something like that) she also sent her money for a birthday party. he says he has no family just the family of deceased wife who is supposedly caring for girl while he is working overseas for an oil company as an engineer. When you say SA do you mean San Antonio or something else? Because this man states that he lives in houston but hasnt been home for a while. But I wanted to know if they sent you pictures of the girls party like they did my mom? They sure do make everything seem believable and I just want to protect my mom.
FTC Staff
June 08, 2016

In reply to by Adaughter

If your mother met someone online, and he is asking her for money, there's a good chance it is a scam.

Scammers often make up stories about their work and families and ask for money for emergenices, or to care for their children. Often the scammer claims he has money, but can't get to it right now because of a problem with his bank or business.

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 and help them by depositing checks or transferring money
September 28, 2016

In reply to by FTC Staff

I too have been talking to a man on face book messenger. Promising me the same as all here. This man is Col john Nicholson is asking for money for his daughter in Ghana. He's stationed in Kabul afgistan.

I'm sure this is a scam, his supposedly 15 yr daughter emailed me for money sent Beto her. No money has been sent nor will be. Why would a highly decorated officer risk losing his retirement? Help this needs to stop!po

October 26, 2016

In reply to by cher3080

Gen.John Nicholson is married. He has two grown childern. His daughter is in the military. He does not have a FB page. Your talking to a scammer dear. I know for a fact! Google Gen John. He is in Kabul with the resolute support mission. I bet he told you his wife is alcoholic and has multiple affairs.
November 27, 2016

In reply to by Lweve

This Gen. John Nicholson imposter set me a Skype request. I never accept unknown requests but hit the wrong button by mistake. My first question was why anyone would send a stranger a request. I googled the General while the imposter answered. I then proceeded to respond to his request to get to know each other while I caught him in lies. Hahahaha! Single father of a 12 yo boy whose mother died in a crash 4 years ago. I posed my questions in vernacular anyone originally from the US would understand. He, of course stumbled and said he didn't understand upon nearly each of my questions. I had fun and even led him by saying "gosh, I feel SO bad for your motherless child and wish I could do ANYTHING for you but I need to go for now." When he said he'd msg me another time, I said "no, you wont.t I I knew you were not Gen John and just messing around for my amusement. Good luck with whatever your God does to you." Now just looking for how to report him! Tee hee,
December 09, 2016

In reply to by CATCHER

Ladies look out for Captain Samson Daniel. Says he is in Munich and retiring out in Feb 2017. From Cincinnati. Son Elii 14 years old. Mother deaceased. Loved me by second conversation. Led me from Facebook to Hangout Although his english was pretty could tell english was not his mother tongue. Picture is of handsome soldier 47 ans looking fine. I knew he was full of ____ almost immediately. The way he talkedngabe him away. Please beware