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.
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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My mother was being scammed by a Robert Anderson. Same bs story as everyone else. He eventually asked for money after talking to her for months. He first asked for $35k to get a box of paperwork shipped. Then said $18k was ok. She almost sent it! Had it not been for the nice lady at the bank intervening, this would of been a different story!
Has anyone spoken with a Denis Martin Ivan? He says he is 60 years old and retired from the army but, recently went back to Syria or Pakistan I don't remember because his wife died of leukemia 3 years ago and he didn't want to be alone. His son"supposedly" attends West Point. Everytime I asked to see a picture he could never produce one saying the file was corrupted. I did see him on video as the army's media team as he called them set it up for him to see me but we didn't talk. His face matched his pictures on his profile on Facebook. But, what I thought was suspicious was he said he was from Manchester, New Hampshire and when I searched for him I could never find anyone with that name and age from that town. The closest I came was a 72 year old from another town close to there. He also told me a rich Arab he and his men protected gifted them with a few billion dollars and expensive diamonds and they were going to split it up 4 ways. He wanted to send me his portion in a box with a special code for safety and have me hold it for him until he returned in a few weeks. After that he said we were going to go on vacations, get married, etc. and he loved me. I said no I was scared to do it. He became really mad, accused me of not trusting him, threatened me, threatened my family, told me I was gonna pay, etc. Do you guys think he's for real or a miserable joke?