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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.

 

 

1,326 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.

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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.

Miss Depressed
June 12, 2020

In reply to by Betty

I was a victim of this recently. This guy is very nice to me. He sent me 1 million dollars because he wants to invest in my country. He said i will pay for the parcel to the logistics. I did it until it reaches more than 10000 dollars. Now i dont know what to do. It seems like i want to end my life because i was left nothing.
lapreciosaflaca
July 10, 2018
Ive been scammed by a military Sgt Rodriguez. Goes by different names but uses the same pictures and stories.
tlo
July 14, 2018

In reply to by lapreciosaflaca

hey are u willing to contact me,i believe we have both been scammed by the same person
Rhodes 80
July 27, 2018

In reply to by lapreciosaflaca

I was to. His name was James Rodriguez. I knew something was up. But thank God I didn't send no money. I feel so dumb.
Queen
April 28, 2020

In reply to by Queen

I have photos. How do you post a photo on here?
duski99
June 21, 2020

In reply to by Queen

Hello. Do you have photos of James Rodriguez? I think I have been scammed by the same person. He contacted me on Instagram.
Lorscute
July 10, 2020

In reply to by duski99

Can you share also to me if that guy you met online as same mine. I had met Sgt. Rodriguez here too. And had feeling to scam me here.
Rhodes 80
July 29, 2018

In reply to by lapreciosaflaca

I didn't send him any money but he attempted to get money from me. James Rodriguez SGT. We might be talking about the same person?
Mumdog
November 11, 2018

In reply to by Rhodes 80

I'm after some information about a James Rodrigues he has been trying to get money from me he's been telling he's in Syria but works for us army and told me he loves me etc does anybody have a picture cos I do
Mimi
January 20, 2019

In reply to by Mumdog

And is using many photo I am familiar to me. The story also sounds very familiar to me. Do you have any chat with him to show, so that I can compare mine with yours.
Bunnies
January 26, 2019

In reply to by Mumdog

I think I was scam by the same person. Sgt James Rodriguez. I would like to see his photo.
Coffeemom
May 24, 2019

In reply to by Bunnies

Hi, days ago a person from Instagram started to follow me and his name was Sgt. James Rodriguez, cute guy, buff and had several photos on his IG account. He claims to be working for the US Army and is stationed somewhere in Kansas. I tried to be nosy about his work and asking about his work as a serviceman and he can barely say anything. He tried to ask me of my email address but I had a hint of this person being a scammer, I gave him a different email. When I had a hutch of him being shady, he got a little disappointed and unfollowed him and took him off my IG. I have this feeling this is the same person.
Lonelyheart
August 07, 2019

In reply to by Coffeemom

To Coffeemom..is it possible for you to contact me..i think im talking with the same guy for a year...thanks for bringing this to light..
Queen
April 10, 2020

In reply to by questioning it all

James Rodriguez. Noble Drilling oil/gas pipeline contract engineer off Mainecoast. Says 56 years old. Born in Italy. All comments sound VERY familiar. Just asked me to get a Google Play $400 card to update his phone that is needed to send work reports. Says 18 year old son and wife died. I won't send the card and now he is really guilting me. I know he must be a scammer!
Inspector Gadget
December 20, 2020

In reply to by Queen

Hello this sounds familiar is it possible to see a picture of this perpetrator I think he changed his first name now
Jane
August 30, 2021

In reply to by Queen

I'm chatting to an underwater welder pacific ocean, 57, wife and daughter killed in car accident 5 ywars ago. Explosion, colleagues need medical care. His funds tied up. I refused to send cash when asked. Asked for an Amazon card, refused that too. Bizarre
Amyathome
March 25, 2019

In reply to by Mumdog

Dose this guy say he has a son and needs his son school payed for?
Momtwoboys
October 10, 2018

In reply to by lapreciosaflaca

Are you able to provide a picture of this person I think I might be dealing with this same person now
jlz
November 23, 2018

In reply to by Momtwoboys

I think I’m being scammed by a James Rodriguez who claims to be an Engineer on an oil rig
Bonz
December 29, 2018

In reply to by jlz

I think I am being scammed by a guy who said he was a petroleum engineer / rig manager on an oil rig in Saudi Arabia / Dubai. After 7 months of texting and talking he asked me for money. He said his name was Javi / Jordi. Do you have a photo?
Kikalaloca
August 19, 2019

In reply to by Bonz

Similar story , he says he’s on the oil platforms in Saudi Arabia, and needs money for flight to get back to the US. He swears, he has millions coming to him. His name is David Brian and states he has a son. Has anyone come across him . He has a Massachusetts phone number
the daughter
January 04, 2019

In reply to by jlz

My mom is being scammed by a dude like that. I'd like to see a pic to know if it's the same dude
concernedsister
March 04, 2019

In reply to by the daughter

Have you seen a pic yet? I think my sister is being scammed too. Gerald Castaneda says his money is tied up in Bank in New York. He’s in alaska on oil rig for Exxon. First he had damaged gear. Then he had Alaska state fines $3000 now he needs $100K. Widower, only child, dead parents. Blah blah blah.
concernedfriend
May 08, 2019

In reply to by concernedsister

Gerald Castaneda is definitely a scam. Same oil rig/Alaska/widower story. Already scammed a friend out of a significant amount of money. Sent to his "on-shore secretary" Edward B Lawson in shifting bank accounts. Would like to find the proper authority to nail this guy.
Billie1111
May 08, 2019

In reply to by concernedsister

Gerald Castenada has been in contact with me for over a year now. Has a French accent. I have pictures. Claims to have millions tied up in banks. He says he is a Civil Engineer. Smooth talker. Will sweep you off your feet and take all your money. States he's on a rig in Alaska working for Exxon. Only child.
Battled
May 20, 2019

In reply to by Billie1111

Scammers change their name, but they will tell the similar story, no parents, wife and son died 4 years ago, no friends. A engineer working on the rig, have a big contract with oil company, after few weeks sweet words talking, his workers broke the machine, he can’t get off the rig because of the contract. Then ask me to pay for the machine to a Egypt’s company, so he can get a new machine. I just realized it’s something not right, I checked online and found it could be a scam. And track down his IP address, it’s in US, not in Italia. I didn’t send him any money, he keeps asking me to send him.
txmouse
June 15, 2019

In reply to by Battled

i believe this same guy is using the name Jim Snyder now. gave me the exact same story about a broken machine on the oil rig, he hurt his back really bad and his boss won't let him off the rig until he buys a new machine....but low and behold, his millions are tied up in a bank account that he can't get into bec the accounting sent his pay in full and now the bank thinks it's suspicious activity. after talking for 2 months via text and phone, he finally asked me to loan him some money. said he raised $8500 of the $12k. of course i told him no!! and just like that he's disappeared. i had bad feelings about it from the beginning. just glad i wised up!
Bella
November 17, 2019

In reply to by txmouse

Your’s sounds like the James who is scamming my aunt. Same BS story. She won’t tell me how much she has sent but I know it’s a lot. Do u happen to have a picture of him? I don’t know what to do fo her. Afraid she will lose all her money
Kate
August 25, 2019

In reply to by Battled

Same story for me. He said his an engineer, working in Gulf of Mexico. Name Terry Allen, widow for four years, has a child, live in TX, no parents. After one month, he said something in his computer broke, he needs 200 dollars, bla bla.
rsj777
March 04, 2020

In reply to by Billie1111

Hi Billie. I am wondering if you’re able to share the pictures you mentioned in your post. I think I just recently interacted with one and I do have his pictures too. He sounded true, but borrowed money from me-yesterday. I need input. Thank you.
Addie
March 17, 2019

In reply to by lapreciosaflaca

I have been scan by a Guy says he is from Florida and used the name of John Nicholson in army. Is going to retire after 37 years. Says he has a son West Africa got hurt in accident He uses the name as travis Patel Pate .can you help me Hes been Texting me a 1 year and 2 months. He always ask for stuff for his son. Says he is stock in West Africa and can't get out
Tamrosskopf
April 03, 2019

In reply to by lapreciosaflaca

Where was this Rodriguez stationed. What was his excuse for needing the money. I am talking with an captain Antonio Rodriguez
I'm such a sucker.
June 21, 2019

In reply to by lapreciosaflaca

Do you happen to have a photo of Rodriguez?
Honey
August 29, 2019

In reply to by I'm such a sucker.

I have a Michael Rogrigiez..is anyone else in contact with him? Please let me know..
Kylajames
January 07, 2020

In reply to by moni23

States drilling engineer. Widower two children are in boarding school in Scotland. Needs monies to repair rig. Always wants money for something.
Kahina100
August 04, 2020

In reply to by Honey

I am currently talking to a Michael Rodriguez. I have video chatted with him on hangouts and talk to him on the phone daily. He says he's a Navy Captain combat medic in Al tanf military base in Syria. Has 2 children, girl named Tiffany and son David. He has a Facebook page and Instagram (MichaelRodrigue119) check out for pics. Is this the same guy?
sharon1324
September 12, 2020

In reply to by Kahina100

yes i am talking to him, This is the same story he telling me, same kids same every thing, do not seen him money and i have pictures of him. His kids are in Germany with the nanny? He got his vacation but because he lost his card or the bank close it down cause of a large deposit?
Martie
July 10, 2018
My sister was scammed out of $600 using Amazon cards by some claiming to be a Dennis William using Shawn Booth's pictures (2015 Bachelorette show bachelor). He promised to move her from PA to TN. My sister would not believe her family when we told her, "she was being scammed."
TCE
April 20, 2019

In reply to by Martie

How was she scammed by sending Amazon cards? My mom sent itune cards and amazon cards to a James.
AVH1999
September 24, 2019

In reply to by TCE

What was James last name? I have someone I think being scammed by a James Cabrales.
Ap
February 25, 2021

In reply to by TCE

Hi I'm talking to a guy that says he is in Afghanistan ,said he has a son that's in ohio with a nanny, lost his parents n a car wreck when he was 15,he said he is 39, we have been talking a little over a month and he ask me to send him a I-tunes card, for a 100$ I told him I didn't have that much $ I told him I only had 50$ and he ask me if I would get the card,the reason he said he wants it so he can download some app,(Hangout) on his iphone said he is about to go to war field, he said he wants the I-tunes card so he can stay in touch with me? While in the war field ... He is going by James Ganoa
Bahija6
February 26, 2021

In reply to by Ap

Hey girl same story here..... except his parents died at 21 but I have been talking to him for a month......I checked the department of defense and his name and birthday were correct and he was verified as active duty....every picture he has sent me I did google reverse and found nothing. Why do they ask for itunes cards? The hangout app is free that's what I communicate with him on
Mr Mencanfall4this2
July 10, 2018
Not being a man of hefty mean, I have learned that if woman asks for anything more than your time and in person meeting, and willing to meet you half way, then you need to be weary of them.