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It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. You may think you spend a lot on flowers or chocolate, but losing money in a romance scam would cost you even more. Last year, people reported losing $143 million to romance scams – a higher total than for any other type of scam reported to the FTC. And, according to a new FTC Data Spotlight, reports of romance scams are on the rise.

What do we mean by romance scams? We’re not talking about the person you thought was “the one” but ended up being a dud. We’re talking about people you meet online, who lavish you with attention … and then ask for money. Usually they want the money by wire transfer or gift card. They might claim they need it for a medical emergency or to come visit you. Then they take your money, but there’s no surgery and no trip.

Romance scammers are hard at work wooing people on dating apps and social media. They may lift photos to create an attractive profile or even steal the identity of a real person. Just like with real romances, it may take them some time to gain your trust, but the scammer’s payoff can be big. Last year, people reported a median loss of $2,600 from romance scams.

How can you avoid romance scams?

  • Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
  • Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers. Check the person’s photo using your search engine’s “search by image” feature. If the same picture shows up with a different name, that’s a red flag.
  • Talk to someone about this new love interest. And pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
  • If you suspect a romance scam, cut off contact right away. Then, report to the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the dating site where you met the scammer, too.

For more information, read Online Dating Scams or watch this video:

 

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1385 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.

Frankie
February 12, 2019
Just playing Words with Friends, this guy starts a conversation. I was suspicious right away. After a bit he says he is a widower with 3 kids. He messed up big. Next he says he has 2 kids, just barely making it. I told him he was a moron.
vanessa6297
February 12, 2019

In reply to by Frankie

that seems to be the big story or that they are divorced with children. For a while, i was getting a number of messages via social media. Most of them claimed to be men in the military or doctors working abroad. It's crazy the lengths people go to scam others. I even had someone request an iTunes gift card so their sick daughter could sell it to go to the hospital.
Loulou2934
May 25, 2019

In reply to by vanessa6297

Ladies/Gentlemen all I can say be very careful of these internet romance. Especially those International ones. I met one on tagged from Cyprus, Turkey. He was white man first then after 8 months I found out he was an African. They all scammer and I fall victim and lost Thousands of USD. Be careful of all those dating Apps. When I found out he was an African I still talk to him because he shows like he was loving and caring but he was a real scammer. He scam me for 3 yrs but I have learned my lessons. Hes Still scamming women in the USA so you all be careful. Hes not bad looking, speak with a soft voice and only call u baby. Easily get mad and always want large sum of money. He cries at all times and said he have High Blood Pressure. I start curse him out when I really realized that hes nothing but a scammer to supply him self and his families. I was gathering so much evidence on him and he don't know all what I found out. So I'm going to start work with the FBI and EFCC in Africa to get him. So please be careful of these International romance scammers.
Gabriellalani
June 15, 2019

In reply to by Loulou2934

Hi your story sounds very similar to mine and the person is also from Cyprus but sounds like an African man. Do you mind emailing me to compare evidence?
** Ana
July 24, 2019

In reply to by Gabriellalani

Same here, can we email to exchange information ?
karenjanem7
April 28, 2020

In reply to by ** Ana

I think this guy has been trying to get money out of me
Pippa
April 16, 2021

In reply to by karenjanem7

Hi can some send me pictures of this guy please as my mother in law has just been scammed out of £1000 from a guy who said he was a doctor in turkey who has now blocked my mother in law of everyting can someone help me please
Xxx
August 22, 2021

In reply to by Pippa

Do you have the picture of this man? So I can compare with mine. i also met online claiming he is a doctor in turkey.
Gratia
September 21, 2021

In reply to by Xxx

Can you send me his picture. I also talking to a doctor in Turkey . Just to compare
Mary Jane love…
July 04, 2021

In reply to by karenjanem7

Dr David Williams been talking for months asking me to be his wife asking for money all the time l done know nothing about him only he works i Yemen don’t think he does sweet talking
Mary Lou
August 05, 2021

In reply to by Mary Jane love…

Dear Mary Jane, where did Dr. David williams say he was from? Is he originally from Argentina. Gave you a list of his credentials. Very nice man. He has not asked me for money or cards of any sort. Very polite. He is General Surgeon in Yemen... Thanks,
Katie
August 23, 2021

In reply to by Mary Lou

Dr David Williams is a big scammer he scammed me for thousands of dollars. He told me he wanted me as his wife. He was a doctor in Syria and head of surgery.. he is nothing b but evil.
Angel
September 07, 2021

In reply to by Katie

Katie he told me his name was Dennis Williams, orthopedic surgeon in Syria with a son named Kelvin who at the time was 11.i have pictures. Sounds like same guy and he was texting me asking to be his wife since may this year.
Aveline
October 22, 2021

In reply to by Angel

He told me his name was Christopher. Orthopedic surgeon in Syria with the UN Has son Kelvin now aged 12 who is at boarding school in the UK. Said he was a widower his wife was killed in a car crash 4 years ago. Was looking for gift cards.
EdR
August 20, 2021

In reply to by Mary Jane love…

My mother gave 30000euro to a military doctor in Yemen who needed to leave and was wounded . She spoke to him and his general. He needed her to be his wife. She was grieving the loss of her parent when he came on the scene. This is now in the hands of court. I can only be grateful the banks blocked her accounts when they did! The man has different profiles on Instagram- no real name. Mothers, sisters, daughters, friends love shouldn't be bought! People on the internet are not real.
Don't use your…
June 02, 2020

In reply to by ** Ana

The man's name is Derek Bendon I want to show you his pic. Text me
Don’t
July 18, 2020

In reply to by Don't use your…

Hey I got someone going by Neal Rogers says he’s working in fahti instanbul turkey someone let me know let’s send pictures this guy messaged me for a friend looking for my grandma the guy was talking To her and she was in the hospital dying and he never went away said He is working left the state’s 3 weeks into our talks.
Juleeob
July 20, 2020

In reply to by Don't use your…

Has any of you heard of a James erkan, whose deployed in iraq? He did sent me pics of him at home and of his dog and son. He only asked for money once, he knows I'm broke but we keep talking. Real or fake?
Same
December 03, 2020

In reply to by Juleeob

I got same pics! This guy contacted me first on fitbit app and then on WhatsApp. Goes by Mark W now
JexWixx
December 31, 2020

In reply to by Same

Orthopedic Surgeon in Yemen with 16 year old girl in Africa boarding school contacted me on Facebook then whatsapp then google Hangouts. Went by Walter Anthony from Texas. I confronted him about this and he couldn't answer or wouldn't. Blocked him. Soo glad I saw these.
NA
January 05, 2021

In reply to by JexWixx

i was laso found on FB by a doctor working abroad, he asked me to talk to him on wats up then on hangouts, he sais he lived in Huston TX and working by contract untill april. Can I send you his pictures? I have a lot of his
Angeleyes
January 22, 2021

In reply to by NA

Please post pics. i have a friend that I believe is being scammed and I need to show her . I am not registered on here. I dont know if you need to register.
Johnmac
January 26, 2021

In reply to by NA

Wondering if you could share pic of orthopedic surgeon from Yemen I been talking to guy for a month he lived in TX as a child but now lives in NY with daughter once hus vontract is over in Syria
Eager80
August 06, 2021

In reply to by Johnmac

I talked to a guy Harry Logan from Canada, his parents died when he was 10, then he lived in a orphanage, his wife died and now he is in Yemen as a orthopedic surgeon. He asked me for a ITunes card. His name does not come up when I looked us the UN Doctor list for Yemen, and his ID badge picture he sent me is like many out there that’s is fake. I asked him about a fake doctor scammer that I found and he said he knew him, even though he was fake. They can never show pictures, they have sad stories, they are pushy, be aware, stay safe.
Alice 52
September 19, 2021

In reply to by Eager80

If am talking to a guy who says he is an orthopedic surgeon in Yemen. From Chicago. Very romantic and says he wants me as his wife. Name Stephenson Richard Christopher. Does anyone know if he is a scammer
jeeta
September 28, 2021

In reply to by Eager80

oh wow... this similar to my story.. i knew him from fb name dell zaman ben.. strory exactly same... i cant afford of the money he requested even if usd3000.. after almost 1 mnth chatted with him.. and couldnt get the money.. he threated to kill me as i have already gave him my address. but i just ignored him. really wasted time talking to this man...
Dredre
January 28, 2021

In reply to by NA

I met a guy too saying he is a doctor. Wanna exchange pics of this guy. He is white but sounds African lol
Holy
February 01, 2021

In reply to by NA

Same here! He found me on Facebook, he goes by Alex Roberts neurosurgeon working in Iraq for UN and has 5year contract. He has a daughter who's underage. He's lost his wife one year ago and is so lonely. Now he asks my help, he wants to send me huge amount of money because he can't keep it there in baghdad.
Jaded28
May 04, 2021

In reply to by Holy

This guy I've been talking to says he's a widow with a 6-year-old son, and lost the wife and child during childbirth.
mabraxd
July 01, 2021

In reply to by Jaded28

Im talking to someone right now that has said the same thing only his child is 11
chelle74
August 01, 2021

In reply to by Jaded28

Could you tell me more about this guy? like what he says he's doing for work
Nanette.
May 06, 2021

In reply to by Holy

I meet a person he says was orthopedic Dr. From USA but actually is in Iran through United Nation. Widow with a girl 13 year old. First he ask me for a Google gift card I say not. Than yesterday he told me that his daughter felt from stairs and broke her neck need help for surgery. I have some photos he took from labs, but I believe he is using other people photos.
Felessa.Don't …
June 05, 2021

In reply to by Holy

Don't take his money . It's a money laundry scam. You can get into trouble with the law
Jacqui
February 20, 2021

In reply to by Meg21

This sounds like a “doctor “ calling himself Dania I’ve just been speeding to, he says he’s in Liverpool now leaving on Wednesday for Yemen till April. He says he’s being sent by UN government. Says he has an 11?year old daughter he’s not seen for 8 months.
Di
May 05, 2021

In reply to by Fightforall

Dr. Frank James, orthopedic surgeon working in Afghanistan, leaving in December. Asked me to purchase steam or apple cards. Says he is from NY, widowed and has a 11 year old son named Charles. I hate being scammed and I want my money back. I'm with you about getting him arrested.
Cl389463
August 17, 2021

In reply to by odatdeb

Hi do u have a picture of this james hawkins, he has been messaging me
scruffydosrios
February 19, 2021

In reply to by NA

i am quite sure my mom is being scammed. her guy says he is from north carolina, has a couple of younger kids, is a doctor working independently acquiring ventilators in foreign countrys . he says his name is doctor perry or somthing
pammi0710
September 28, 2021

In reply to by scruffydosrios

and he wants you to transfer money out of an account
Vanesa
February 25, 2021

In reply to by NA

I started to online date with a Dr. Surgeon in Yemen who is under contract who is also widow has a 15 years old child. He asked me for my mailing address to send me his valuable things.
Dee123
March 08, 2021

In reply to by Vanesa

Hi, could you please share his photo. He sounds like the same Guy, my moms been talking to. He address his name as Dr Ganesh Prasad - Heart Surgeon. From USA, But currently staying in yemen - sanaa. He spoke with my mom for a month. He wanted to visit India to marry my mom. Then asked us are addresse to send his belongings. Later He wanted her to pay for some valuable belongings that he sent via Cargo. Please share his photoss. Thanks would help a lottt.
Lara
March 12, 2021

In reply to by Vanesa

I happen to have met the same person, he says he is an orthopedic military surgon from the US and based in Yemen. He is an orphan his wife died and has a 15 year old daughter alone in the US because she has no relatives. He is a man of faith....I would be interested in his picture seems to be the same guy
Stella5
April 15, 2021

In reply to by Lara

Me too! Orthopedic surgeon in lebanon, wants to marry after three days!! How stupid does he think I am? Would love to share picture...
Mak Is
June 05, 2021

In reply to by Lara

It sounds like what I’ve experiencing right now, will you please send me a copy if his picture?
Missy321
June 09, 2021

In reply to by Lara

Hi my neighbor is speaking to a man with same story. She has given him $15k in the year I’ve known her she is 78. Can we exchange pics. It has to stop. Thank u
Gingin
July 26, 2021

In reply to by Missy321

What is this neighbors name - It's a different situation - some older lady who's about that age sending money to my mom for this guy doesn't make sense -Leonardo Thompson - orthopedic surgeon & heart dr (lol) working with the United Nations in Yemen .