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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.

July
March 03, 2021

In reply to by No me sucker

Me too, a month ago widow surgeon contacted me while working in Yemen, yesterday I request me send him money to pay for his flight to come back France. Can you show me his pictures?
ThisCircus
September 17, 2021

In reply to by No me sucker

Sounds like some one I love may be dealing with similar. Pictures?
Mignion
September 22, 2020

In reply to by Absolutely Sick

Same with me.. same way he scammed me. But i post hundreds thousands dollar for this
Meme
October 12, 2020

In reply to by Absolutely Sick

Iv just had a very similar encounter with someone I met on Tinder !!! very convincing thankgod I had my suspicions i never wired any money
I feel stupid
December 14, 2020

In reply to by Absolutely Sick

I also met a man on zoosk says he’s German and he went to Alaska to work I’ve also transferred $ from his account for materials and then it was locked and he needed to come home to take care of it in person! I’ve sent him $ On cash app and bitcoin and google cards .. it’s an endless cycle of asking for money.. I’d like to email you and exchange pics
feeling foolish
March 13, 2021

In reply to by Absolutely Sick

Yes---Met a person back in Feb2020. We communicated almost daily. Got a job in North Turkey (Cyprus) to build a resort. Sent him money via wire 2x for supplies and taxes. He was suppose to come back in December and did not. Said he was stopped at the airport for overstaying his Visa and still owed money to a construction company. Needed to come home and take care of things. Stated he would pay back upon return. Also said people were helping him but he was short. Very smooth, calming voice with an accent. Said he grew up in Sweden and moved to US when he was in his 20's. Parent were in NYC. Has a daughter in London and was divorced 4 years ago. Do you have any pictures? I'm not sure who to contact but I want to report this.
Lumlum2002
June 13, 2021

In reply to by Absolutely Sick

I'm doing it right now it's the same person/group that got me!!! The story is almost exactly verbatim I swear to you!!! Oh my God I'm so glad you got out of it. And much quicker than I did fortunately for you.
Nanacarol50
July 19, 2020

In reply to by Don't use your…

I was approached by guy works for Exxon. He is using name Byron Markus and says he lives in Nashville, TN. He has son in school in Texas and is a widow because wife died during childbirth supposedly.
Nanacarol50
July 25, 2020

In reply to by Don't use your…

I also have a guy works for Exxon and on Facebook he is Byron Markus but found him on Twitter as Jeff Lancelot and has son he calls Sammy and under his Jeff name son is Kelley. Are any of these names familiar?
Orion
August 06, 2020

In reply to by Nanacarol50

I'm a real, male senior. ?Why do these romance scammers prey on males, or do they? I've never heard of any instance. On the other hand, I would pay to do a "turn-around" scam on the scammers. It would be fun to twist the screw in the other direction for a change.
Worried for mom
July 28, 2020

In reply to by Don't use your…

I believe someone is trying to scam my mom. She met this man on FB online dating. He said he works on oil rig. He asked her to send invoices from her email because he was loosing internet connection in the sea. She doesn’t believe me it is a scam, and she has become alienated. Can you please provide more information on how you have been scammed? His name is George William.
Tired of the bull!!
June 25, 2021

In reply to by Worried for mom

Yes this guy, I've had the same guy. 'Im a marine biologist and i havent been paid, I'll pay you back.' He didn't want to loose contact with me. Pic was of an Italian. Started chatting to him via Word Wars. Block and deleted now.
Dumb one
August 02, 2020

In reply to by Don't use your…

I have too!!! May I see the picture that you have to see if it is the same man who scammed me?
Happiness67
April 28, 2021

In reply to by Don't use your…

I have been talking with a man and says he works for Exxon. He says his machine broke down now he and his crew is stranded there. He wants to use my checking account to have his pay deposited into my account. I did not do that. He asks for gift cards for phone connection. I do not get. He is supposedly in the Gulf of Mexico. Can you send photo please?
Kittyred
July 11, 2021

In reply to by Happiness67

I've been talking to a guy Randy Leonard on BP oil rig asks for money for Amazon cards which I sent him Now machine parts stuck in Customs and needs $3000 to get parts Daughter Kim Houston Texas
Dva316
October 16, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

This sounds like my guy who I met in July. He supposedly be from Indiana and works in the oil fields in Australia. I'm still talking to him because he seems humble and uses prayer and christianity as a ploy to get you in. He sends me prayers, photos and even a driver's license taken in Indiana. He isn't Dubai but his colleague is right now. I'm trying to catch him up but hes stuck to me as if hes my man and promised he's not like those other people and gets a little annoyed when I doubt his word or accuse him of not being who hes represents.
Nancy Drew
February 21, 2020

In reply to by Dva316

I met someone online. His photo was gorgeous. He told me he was an orthopedic surgeon going to Yemen. He said his name was Phillip Regner.. He says after 6 months we will meet and get married. I told him I would fly to where he was to meet him. He made up excuses. When I FaceTime him , it’s the guy in the photo but something is amiss. Says he’s from Nashville, Tn. Anyone know or hear from this man?
Raquel Getreal
February 26, 2020

In reply to by Nancy Drew

Same story. Orthopedic surgeon went to Yemen.Fell in love too fast..2 kids in boarding school. From Nashville, Tn. Got angry and distant as soon as I refused the guft cards. Stolen identity..Dr. James Norris..
Bobcat
April 03, 2021

In reply to by Raquel Getreal

The doctor that was used I have not found his real name yet . when I do I would love to talk with him and let him know what has happened to him.
debbie
March 04, 2020

In reply to by Nancy Drew

Yes. I think I have met the same guy. I'm curious to know if he is using the same pictures as he used to you.
Poli
March 11, 2020

In reply to by debbie

I think I'm talking to the same man, please can we share photos?
Nancy Drew
March 15, 2020

In reply to by debbie

This guy was gorgeous! My favorite photo was of him in a green shirt working out in the gym. There was another photo of him with the dog. He has a picture of him at a doctors outfit also. Supposedly, he’s an orthopedic surgeon. His pictures appear on this website under fake and miss used photos. Does that sound like him?
Donewscammers
July 06, 2020

In reply to by Nancy Drew

Hello-I also want to cross reference my experience with yours. Where do I find the fake and misused photo section? Can we exchange photos to see if we were talking to the same guy? Thank you!
Disappointed 02
July 06, 2020

In reply to by Nancy Drew

I think the same thing is happening too me. Orthopedic surgeon dr. working at UN in Afghanistan. I have a photo he sent me. Can I send it to you?
snewtown
July 21, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

Hello same here, an orthopedic surgeon in Afghanistan. widowed and claims to have a daughter in Tx. asking for gift cards and money for his vacation to come to the states to get married lol. He uses the name James Carter. I have pics hes using
Dolly
July 22, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

Please share his photos to me. He said same thing to me. He talked to me few days ago.
upset3
August 03, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

Hi. I am trying to convince my auntie that she is being a victim of a scam but she is not believing. The guy said he is in Afghanistan and coming to the Uk to meet her, but he need money to buy tickets as he is not going to his country the US government refused to let him use his money to buy the plane ticket. He claims to be a surgeon too, probably is the same person, he said his name is Ray from California, she is just waiting for her wages this week to send him £2000. can you send me the pic that he sent to you please?
Pita
August 21, 2020

In reply to by upset3

I think I have the same person- claims to be in the arm a CSM. He lost his parents in an airplane crash and is wife die of cancer.
Estevesportuga…
August 28, 2020

In reply to by Pita

The same scammer took money from my friend and used the same story , she sent him $4000
Pat
August 07, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

same here, i just talked to him 2 days ago...he told me that he is Orthopedic working with NATO in Afghanistan. I also have his pictures
Hinger
August 10, 2020

In reply to by Pat

I met a guy saying he works for NATO in Turkey! I have pics and I video!!!
Eneida40
September 24, 2020

In reply to by Pat

Having the same problem this guy from Afghanistan and claim to be a doctor . So can anyone share photo he says his name is Mike David
nurseangel
April 21, 2021

In reply to by Eneida40

I have the same scenario dr in Iraq his name is David d son or David eric
egarriepy
January 25, 2021

In reply to by Pat

I met an orthopedic surgeon on a grief web site his name is Robby Patrick and he is from Louisville Kentucky he says he has no access to any money and he is in Iraq
Anna27
August 22, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

Same here an orthopaedic surgeon working in Afghanistan in Kabul.Can you send me the photo?
Eneida40
September 24, 2020

In reply to by Anna27

I would like to share the picture with you!
l needa helper
November 24, 2020

In reply to by Eneida40

Please send me a picture as soon as possible I think it's the same guy I need to see the picture please
Suspicious
February 24, 2021

In reply to by Anna27

Another doctor Scam on Facebook dating site requested to talk through WhatsApp ...profile name Nayumhie..then said his name was Tony Morrison.
Steve
August 27, 2021

In reply to by Anna27

I want to report on a scammer named Lee John Kelvin. He claims to be an Orthopedic Surgeon who joined the American soldiers in Hargeisa Somalia.He has been chatting and communicating with my wife via watsap and messenger on FB. My wife knew this person through FB when my wife added him as a friend of a friend on FB. He said that his wife had died and his son lived in a boarding school in America. He said he wanted to find a partner for my wife, maybe his intention was to cheat. But his intentions did not succeed. I'm sorry if my English isn't that good .. Tq
Anna27
August 22, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

The same happening to me too.Have got his picture too.Please can we share?
Whichone
October 08, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

Was his name Hamisi Masudi please forward me pic abd i will send you mine.
Dee
October 13, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

I have just been contacted through facebook by an orthopedic surgeon also working in Afghanistan. He now wants my gmail address and says due to job in military needs to cancel his facebook account. please advise
Phipps1
October 17, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

Same thing with me Orthopedic surgeon in Afghanistan Dr James Randy Can we compare pics
Don'scammedt u…
November 24, 2020

In reply to by upset

How can I check to see if the doctor who I've been speaking with online is the real deal and not someone scamming me for money
Deborah
November 21, 2020

In reply to by Disappointed 02

Same thing is happening to me as we speak please send me a photo