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While plenty of successful relationships begin online, scammers also use online dating sites, apps, and chat rooms to trick you into sending them money. These imposters create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money in the name of love. Some even make wedding plans before disappearing with the money. It’s a big problem: reports to the FBI about online romance scams tripled between 2012 and 2016, and imposter scams were among the top reports to the Federal Trade Commission for both the general population and the military community.

These scams can take a military angle with imposters stealing servicemembers’ photos to create phony profiles. They might claim to be servicemembers who can’t get into their accounts overseas or who need money fast. The first sign of a scam is an online love interest who asks for money. But the Army’s Criminal Investigative Service (CIS) says that the military doesn’t charge servicemembers to go on leave, get married, communicate with their family, go online, or feed and house themselves on deployment. We have also heard of scammers re-using servicemembers’ photos again and again, so it can be helpful to do some online research on the love interest’s name, photos, and details to check the story out.

If an online love interest asks you for money:

  • Slow down and talk to someone you trust. These scammers want to rush you, often professing love right away; or pressuring you to move your conversation off the dating site.
  • Never wire money, put money on a gift card or cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.
  • If you sent money to a scammer, contact the company you used to send the money (wire transfer service, gift card company, or cash reload card company) and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed if possible.
  • Report your experience to the dating site and to the FTC.

For Military Consumer Month, share this video to help military consumers steer clear of online romance scams.



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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.

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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

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April 12, 2019

In reply to by Spice

Wow... this story sounds very familiar. I also was approached by a Charles Mickels... marine... deployed in Syria... from Greensboro NC... said he was Haitian with a 2-yr. Old son... half Asian. His girlfriend died of cancer?... very suspect.
June 20, 2019

In reply to by CaramelCat

I’ve been contacted by Charles Mickles been communicating since January and met off a dating site. I should’ve known better but he claims that his ex passed away and he has a 2 year old son he has sent me pictures and says he’s deployed and retiring soon
Not Surprised
June 24, 2019

In reply to by Disappointed

I was contacted by Charles Mickles who is deployed and retiring soon. Has a 2 year old son. His son mom passed away. He has send me several picture in uniform however you never see the name on uniform. He is from Greensboro, NC. First asked for an ITunes card and now cash. I have not sent a thing.
July 02, 2019

In reply to by Not Surprised

He swears he’s not lying but i know he is and keeps asking for money saying he has money but can’t access his account while he’s in Syria. He claimed he would be done in June but now something else came up and now he has to wait. All of it is just lies that he thinks he can continue to tell. We only communicate through text he claims he can’t make phone calls. I really want these guys that does this to women to be caught so no more women are scammed. If anyone knows who to contact to get these guys caught let me know
July 02, 2019

In reply to by Disappointed

Charles Mickels just contacted me again yesterday on WhatsApp after not responding to him for over 3 months. He told me he misses me and wants to start conversing again because "you're my wife" He just said he was charged with a loss ammunition charge and doesn't know when he's going home to such a SCAMMER. Ladies BEWARE... He is stealing photos from some innocent guys account.
July 03, 2019

In reply to by Caramelcat

Wow yeah he says the same to me he’s such a liar but i only communicate through text. Do anyone ever talk to him on the phone or is it just messenger. I want to figure out how to catch this guy he’s being dishonest to a lot of women
July 05, 2019

In reply to by Disappointed

Charles Mickels is in Nigeria... not Syria. A few months back I let him borrow my Netflix log in to watch movies. When he logged on, I received an alert with an IP address location in Lagos, Nigeria. When I confronted him about it... he said he was a secret device IP addresses don't lie. Unfortunately it will be extremely difficult to prosecute someone in a different country without knowing his real name or location address. Just don't be stupid enough to send money.
Not surprised
July 14, 2019

In reply to by Disappointed

Yes only communication is via text. I told him to call me or video chat. He said he cannot. But is insisting that I give him my bank account information and a copy of my cc for a He wants to pay my bills for me, he said, because we are going to be together.
August 10, 2019

In reply to by Not surprised

Wow.. I’ve stopped communicating with him, all he does is lies and profess his love and saying he wants to get married. I told him stop lying and I told him stop trying to scam me. He continues to deny that and swears he’s being honest. I was so over it I don’t answer to his messages anymore.
Maggie. May
February 03, 2019
Certainly. I am being scammed. But I sent £800 to get him out of Syria. He’s now in Poland. Stuck with no money. Help me
February 04, 2019
Has anyone been scammed by saying give me x- amount of money in a bank of the UN and I will release my retirement funds 12 million... person is in military a general ?? Help mom is going to get scammed needing advice
February 04, 2019
I never got your reply on what i wrote to you about. I dont know how to use everything on this phone. I really need some advise as to what you think about this man. I dont want to be taken for any more money. He claims he is paying me back and extra to help me. Please respond back. I have nerve problems and worry.
February 08, 2019
Did anyone meet a guy who said he's surgeon in the military and to speak on an app called telegram?
February 08, 2019
About 2 weeks ago a man named Peterson Barkley followed me on Instagram. His profile was private and he had around 130 followers but was following around 3000 people. I got curious, followed back and then he said hello. I had access to his Instagram posts and I could see that most of the people he was following were women, a big number women over 50 years old and very few men. Also, his pictures were few and posted in bulk: one day he posted 4 or 5 pictures but from different settings. He told me he was 47, from Houston, Texas, works as a construction engineer ( in his pictures he looked in his 30's and when I asked him about that he said he had good genes ), a widower and has a little girl. It was obvious that something was fishy but hours after approaching me he started asking me about what I do for a living, what's my salary, am I paid monthly or weekly,do I own a house, if I live on my own, do I have a savings account. And he asked me these questions like in 2 or 3 separate days. When I asked him how much his salary was and why he keeps asking me he told me he works with contracts and he earns thousands of dollars ( evasive ) but he has a daughter to take care of. And he was curious about my salary because he will have a project soon in my country (I am from Romania) and he needed to know for research. (He didn't say when or where in my country). He started calling me baby, sweeetheart in like 3 days and a week later he was in love with me and apparently he told his daughter about me. I checked his pictured online but I got no hits. At the beginning he told me his birthday is on February 14th and the discussion went from what do you want for your birthday to do you want to buy me a present. I shut down the discussion at that moment, I am not crazy to buy gifts for people I don't know. Meanwhile, he suggested to move the discussion on hangounts where every day we had the same discussions: did you eat, what did you eat, how was your day etc. 3 days ago he asked me what will I get him for his birthday. I was shocked but I was evasive: well you are there, I am here, I won't ship it to US. He was like, you don't have to get me anything expensive baby, something that you can afford and then I will get you something nice for your birthday. I suggested a pair of socks or toothpicks. He said no, he wanted something meaningful, that he could look at and remember of me. Well, you can wear socks and think of me. Btw, my b-day is months from now. I said to play along and asked him what present would he like. He said that a necklace or a gadget and that there are a lot of places to get it from where he lives. I told him that I Iiked the idea of a necklace and he answered back that he would like a gadged, but something that I can afford. I told him that the only gadget I can afford at the moment is an USB cable and he told me that I can do better than that. So I asked his to send me a link to what he would like and he sent me printscreens to the following gadgets: a pair of over 300 pounds headsets, an Apple watch which also costed over 300 pounds and an expensive coffee maker that costed 699 pounds. I guess that he wasn't even in the US if the prices were in pounds and not dollars. I could continue and even make fun of him and tell him that I will get him 2 Apple watches, one for each hand, but I just told him that I wouldn't buy a person I've never met that kind of a present and in the end I just told him that I know he is not who he says he is, that I know what a scammer and a catfish is. He just simulated being hurt by my words, didn't even try to defend himself and told me to believe what I want and he can't believe that I got like that because he asked for a birthday present. Also after I told him this he answered me at an hour when he was supposed to be asleep because of the time difference but he was very active. I don't know if I was right or wrong about him, but better safe than sorry. I am a cheap person because I worked hard for everything I own and I continue to do so. No one gave me anything for free so don't come to me and ask for presents. If any of you have been approached by this person please post a comment and maybe other people won't fall for this.
Donmadison't u…
April 02, 2019

In reply to by ThisGirl

I think i know him only he goes by michealfroom he ask have you ate. Do you have a picture this guy is tall black hair brown eyes.
April 01, 2019
I was scammed but caught the red flags after money was asked for Instagram user susanloma200 or susanloma2020 was the scammer she was from Nairobi and used the name Susan Johnson@ and same email on Hangouts She was very convincing and sent beautiful pictures of a beautiful young white woman she confessed from getting off of Instagram But she is black from Nairobi a orphan she told me I wish I could advise the woman whose pictures she stole that there being used against her This is really getting bad I may get 6 woman a day with fake stories
February 11, 2019
I think I am being scam. Been talking to a guy for 3 months says he is a General that he been in the army since he was a young adult. Told me he loved me the first week we started talking. Thought that was weird. He knows how to say the right things and acts like he there for you and cares. Then started to get really weird , he started asking me for I tune cards and money to have him come to the states like a vacation leave. I said no not comfortable giving money out then he got mad and ignored me. Starting Sanhedrin was on a mission that’s why he been not available. Then asking me for a loan when I would give in, I said no then he said I’m not a good friend. Thought this was all weird , I called me out and he saids he not using me. I find it weird and Suspicious. Just be aware please , his name is Alex Schmitd from Portland Maine.
February 14, 2019
I've been scammed by this man supposedly in the military that reached out to me on Instagram. Has a son that his elderly grandmother takes care of..first he told me that he was in Kabul.. then he went to Nigeria where he was supposed to be sent home. Then he couldnt' get on the flight so he asked me for Itunes gift cards. Unfortunately, I fell for it. Now supposedly he is back in the US, but he needs to access his account, but can't because of some lawyer that has to sign some paper in order to get his money out. The last cards I sent him, he claims are invalid so wants me to get more.. I'm done playing this game! I really feel like an idiot for falling for this!
just me
February 15, 2019
Beware, they are also on games. I have been approached by a couple of men claiming to be out of the country for work in need of a new cell phone for his child or help with a sick child. I was expected to ship an I-Phone to a warehouse in New Jersey. When I searched the address of the warehouse, it is known for shipping to Nigeria. He got very aggressive when I said I couldn't do it. Please beware.
February 20, 2019
Antoniasmith25 is scamming now
March 06, 2019
I was called on my cell by this number (1-800-100-9009) around 12:37pm, told by Eric Lee (employee ID# EL10049) that my IP address was compromised and that it was hacked and child porn was being uploaded on it and I need to help him protect myself. He at first mentioned it would be 100$ per device protect but everything would be reimbursed by Apple Care so He then stated I needed to go to a Dollar General and buy an Apple card, deposit $500 on it, but he wanted two but I refused. My son Tyler took me to these places and witnessed the conversations since I had it on speaker phone. I bought the card, gave him the numbers on the card and he stated it didn’t work though he sent me a receipt using an address (Applecare802 @ usa. com). Another email address they use Is Applecare1801 @ usa. com. The emails looked legit by glance but I should have looked more closely at it. He knew my email address already and my son’s and nothing else as far as I know. He asked me for another $500 card and went to another Family dollar where he requested, I buy two cards of $500 each. I tried to but my bank stopped the second purchase though the money was deducted from my card. We again gave him the numbers and he stated it wasn’t enough, sent me a receipt, assured me I would be reimbursed in 3-4 hours and asked for another card. I gave him a hard time each time he asked telling him this sounded fishy but he insisted he “gave me proof by email and assurances they were legit” even though I was still not comfortable with it. He asked one last time for another $500 Apple card and we went to Walgreens (the card was rejected) and paid cash for it, once again giving him the numbers on the card. So now it is up to $2000 I gave him which he sent a receipt about and assured me I would be reimbursed in 3-4 hours. He said he had it, not to get off the phone with him and he placed me on pause telling me a lady would answer to finish the reimbursement process. She came on, stated the she needed another $500 to close the account and assign new IP address and stop the hackers. I told her Eric explained I was done with the process, that I was being transferred to her for reimbursement only, and had no more money. She argued that she could not close the case and I would not get my reimbursement. We argued over it several times and by this time we drove home and I began charging my phone and called USAA. This lady (Jenny Parker Employee # AC20048) was very rude and threatening being in customer support. She repeatedly told us that if she did not get the money, the case would not be closed, I would not get reimbursed and I would get in trouble for the child pornography. The” Apple care” people were put on hold and waited as I talked to my bank representative about the stuff. She stated it was a fancy hoax and told us to hang up on them. The “Apple Care” people tried calling us back several times, even on a different number from Erins NY 315-629-9840 and told us to call her. I felt so stupid, angry and embarrassed I was hoaxed into this and I am currently trying to report this to anyone in law enforcement and government. I have 4 Goggle play cards (empty of money) and receipts (Dollar General for $500 paid with card), another Dollar General for $500 paid with card), another Dollar General receipt of $1000 which $500 was reimbursed to me (with a receipt of the reimbursement) because the 2nd transaction didn’t work), a Walgreens receipt for $500 paid for in cash). Total is $2000 hoaxed. I reported all this to local authorities, the FBI IC3 branch, FTC, to the internet company that gave them these addresses, etc.
August 14, 2019

In reply to by Monkey@Texas

could you please give me to contact the FBI, I have all the copies of the bank transfer I made, I have the address of the recipient of the funds, I want to protect the others
February 21, 2019
A man befriended me on Facebook, his profile name was Mark Wlison Philip. studied in Hargrave Military Academy in Chatam Virginia and lives in New Hartford, New York; claimed he's a commander at a military camp in Bronx, New York. He claimed he's american and asked him to call me through messenger and the way he speaks, he's not American, he sounds African. Within just a couple of days chatting, he professed that he loves me and started asking a phone and itunes card. I figured out he's a scammer and when i didnt give what he was asking, his facebook account disappeared. I just forgot to save his profile photo
February 22, 2019
I meet a guy on instagram and I was looking for help to get my divorce end so he advised me to apply for US army request for divorce and she me an email I send my information and ask it for help they email me back that it will cost me an about 2.952 so r reply to him that's to much I don’t have the money then he asked me for my bank account to send the money to me because he wants to help me and he wants me to marry him after he did send the money to my account in same day asked me to go and pay I went to Walmart to send the money by money Gram and he told me that I have to pay 500 for my card and the other amount I have to buy iTunes and amazon gift cards I send email to Us army email that he send me and they respond exactly the same way he asked me to pay I asked another guy on instagram that he always post military pictures and saying that he’s a commander and was the same I send massage to the guy his name was Sgt WOLFMAN Markson Ben I told him I don’t want to send any documents I canceled everything and going to send his money back I called my bank and they told me the transaction on pending I can’t send the money back before 5 days then he got fostered and told me I have to send his money right now by using iTunes gift cards or he going to hurt me or hurt my kids or send my conversation to my husband I blocked him but still waiting to send his money back but today I reserved an email from the same email I the guy give it to me they saying that on military guy request to report me if I didn’t send his money back in 48 hours they going to send my information to FBI and they will arrest me
February 22, 2019
My mom is being scammed by a guy who claims to be on a ship off the coast of OR. His calls traced to a land line in Texas. Says he has a son in boarding school and is always asking her for money. He tells her he wants to marry her. My sister and I have tried to explain that it is a scam. She is in way over her head and is to blind to see the truth. We are fed up. He tells her how to get around us and has her opening new bank accounts, taking out loans, buying him gift cards and God only knows what else. This is very frustrating for us because we can't make her see the truth. How can we stop this before its to late?
February 23, 2019
I have been talking to a US military soldier currently in Nigeria, he has applied for emergency leave and needs £85 towards his flight, this is the first time in 4 months of talking he has asked for anything, he said he can't get into his account until he is back home, hes told me his picture was once used to scam a US lady, I looked his name up and his picture came up under scam haters, his name is porter Gerrard
February 24, 2019
Be careful for a Donald James Champagne says he’s in Alaska at fort wainwright asked me to get an iTunes card for his son birthday got all upset when I said I couldn’t... Spoke on hangouts has almost 10 google + accounts I found multiple women he did it to his maps said in Africa...doing it since 2015!!! Even found a new account today ... this one was James Champagne... He’s good!! Feel free to contact me...
February 24, 2019
Anyone talking to Jimmy brown now in Afghanistan sister in hospital California , he says he is not being fed in us army and needs game card to swop for cash
February 25, 2019
I've been scammed by an Army soldier saying he needs money to get his "Box" from Syria. I have not yet gave him anything. Only thing I got for him was Amazon gift card for $50. I gave him my address and phone number and I'm scared what he will do with it. Anyone help me here? Please?! I really don't know if he's real or not.
Kellie 22
April 01, 2019

In reply to by Madison

Can you tell me what his name was?
March 05, 2019

In reply to by Jennifer

He wanted 100 amazon card wants box sent to me 3,000 a box he cant be real or we are dating the same man if you know his name would help is it micheal froom cant take pictures cant really call. From ca. Never said he was in the service.
March 08, 2019

In reply to by Jennifer

Jennifer, could you please mention his name because my friend she also been scammed the same your case, he ask for money to send his "box" to my friend from Syria but the true there is no box. Now this guy was disappeared after my friend send money for him. Be careful Army soldier ask for money never meet them in personal surely they are scammers.
Donmadison't u…
April 08, 2019

In reply to by Concern:

I bet he goes by micheal froome but yes it would be nice if you would give a nam so we can help each other
April 17, 2019

In reply to by Jennifer

What name did he give? Because I think I’m victimized right now by name James Bunker. There’s also this “box”.
February 25, 2019
There is someone I met on POF, who claimed he was Anderson Mason, goes by the name Mason, in the US Army currently stationed in Nigeria. I had already fell for his story about his parents dying in a car accident and since then he has been estranged supposedly from the rest of his family, since being overseas. He tricked me into getting him a bunch of ITunes cards over the month, after claiming he couldn't access his monies from a foreign country. I stopped giving him cards for paid ITunes and Amazon after I finally figured out he scammed me out of money. I wish I would've thought in earlier months, that military soldiers don't need money to pay for stuff while away and can even have their own money transferred from US to base anywhere in the world. I learned my lesson hard. He even had me send money using World Remit, until I said No, not ever sending anything else. Please everyone watch out for this scammer Staff Sargeant Anderson Mason who also goes by Mason Anderson, claims he is from Brooklyn, NY, originally from NYC. He told me he is an only child and now in his late 30's as of year 2019. He even had me give him my email address to get his supposed commander to send me a request to ask me to help Mason with getting funds to get back home to States for supposed visit to see me and pick up his money from bank in NYC burough area. He liked to me to get me to give him more money and has even promised me marriage. I am taken aback, never had this happen to me before.
June 18, 2019

In reply to by Donnerk

Did he have any tattoos? A swallow bird on his chest and some tattoo on his arm. Do you have his email? What messager did you guys chat on?
June 30, 2019

In reply to by Lola

Hi m chatting with guy with eagle tattoo on the chest . Leonard bent , marine now in Afghan.
Lady detective
February 27, 2019
Does anyone here encounter a certain Julio Oliver Risse? He claimed to be a doctor of military, living in Tacoma, Washington?
Confused girl
March 16, 2019

In reply to by Lady detective

I am talking right now with same Surname but the first name is not Julio but Benjamin and he Said he is also a Doctor of military living in Tacoma..
Veronique Azria
September 10, 2019

In reply to by Lady detective

Oliver Risse contact me by Lynde, he says is Doctor in Tacoma, his profil is still on the application. He asked me a connexion and later on watsap, very nice, then he love me talking jours and hours, several weeks t later he asked me to but Itunes cards, then he have to be a mission for UN . he 'sback today in Tacoma. he called this morning. Yesterday evening he asked to send a email to bank costume service because he got any connexion in the plane. So i sent it, i received an answer as i have new account with 350000$ and have i have to pay2550$ to receive crédit card by DHL. when he called me this morning, i significated him, i don't want talk about money anymore, it is not my business because is back in Us he manage it himself alone. I got proof. I would like to know what i have to do ? Police, FBI ect ... Could you give me some advice, even if you need me to come in Usa Thank you.
September 17, 2019

In reply to by Veronique Azria

Iv been talking to him for weeks still am gave money and iTunes do you have photo off him
November 08, 2021

In reply to by Veronique Azria

I am now texting with a guy using the same name, Dr in Tacoma and widower for 2 years. He hasn't asked for money. What happened between you and him?
February 28, 2019
Hey everyone... add Dave Chanon from ATL to the SCAMMER list. He 1st stated that he was a 7th command then today a Wo2 rank.... He says that his mom is in the hospital and she can't be discharged without a full payment (I've NEVER HEARD OF BEING HELD AT A HOSPITAL because you couldn't pay for surgery). I asked him to ask his colleagues for donations tho. Lol but he insists that I open up a checking account for his friend to send a check for me to deposit. He says that he's in debt because he purchased a home and has a over drawn bank account. So he can not put money in the account because he's on a special assignment and can't do much of anything. And a lot of other rubbish. He got really mad when I questioned things and when I said I couldn't help him because I was poor. From the 2nd day he started to talk to me he professed how much he loves me over and over and over again... using the same rehearsed lines 24/7 without offering much real conversation. (So annoying) Mind you that I just met him 2 weeks ago via Instagram and he doesn't know me at all. He has several Instagram profiles btw. I played along with the little "romantic act"... but today, I'm actually bored so I called him out and blocked him. I'm not looking for love or anything, he randomly popped up in my DMs and said he loved me a day afterwards. Haha I from there it was a low life.
March 03, 2019
So I met this guy on Instagram talk for a couple days and then he hit me with the comment how I have no access to my bank accounts. His name is Collins Adam and that he is US Navy officer Deployed in Syria . After that statement that he doesn’t have access to his bank accounts and then he’s not eating well , really put a red light on for me.
March 03, 2019
My guy is going by the name John Koppel. Supposedly an engineer from WA. Widower. While working a job in Mexico he was mugged and all his ID was stolen, so all his bank accounts were frozen. Then got a contract in Dubai, but had no money to get there. Well once he got to Dubai, he supposedly had to pay $40,000 in taxes and fines in order to get paid for the job he's on. And now of course, he can't afford to get back to the states. He asks for Amazon or Sephora gift cards. He asks for your log in info for your credit cards so he can send payments to cover the cost of the gift cards. Then the payment ends up getting returned. Gave him banking info, since he can't access his accounts until he is back in the states to straighten out the mess from Mexico. Made deposits with bogus checks, but before the checks were deemed fraudulent, asked me to use my debit for more Sephora cards. Well, after $5000 in bad deposits, my bank account is closed due to overdraft of $3800. So, anyone out there, if this sounds familiar, let me know.
April 02, 2019

In reply to by betrayed

Yes I came across a guy named Jacob Handy on WWF.. he said the same thing to me I wonder if it’s the same guy. I’m so disgusted
Ellie 14
March 03, 2019
Has any heard of a Eric Ben stationed in Afghanistan. Says he doesn't want my money. Has a attorney that wants fifty five hundred dollars for marriage certificate and documents for new house Eric wants us to get together.