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It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Lots of us have profiles on online dating sites, apps or social media to find “the one.” But that interesting person who just messaged you could be a sweet-talking romance scammer trying to trick you into sending money. 

Reports of romance scams are growing, and costing people a lot of cash. According to new FTC data, the number of romance scams people report to the FTC has nearly tripled since 2015. Even more, the total amount of money people reported losing in 2019 is six times higher than it was five years ago – from $33 million lost to romance scammers in 2015 to $201 million in 2019. People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past two years than to any other fraud reported to the FTC. 

In a sea of online profiles, romance scammers can be hard to detect. But, there are signs you can look out for. Romance scammers start by using someone else’s identity to create fake profiles. They’ll send you flattering messages to make a special connection, say all the right things, and gain your trust. They might claim to be a doctor, a servicemember, or an oil rig worker living overseas. They want to make future plans with you. But then, something comes up and they ask you for money to help them out. Which nearly always means asking you to buy gift cards (and give them the PIN, so they get the cash), or wiring them money

Here’s the thing: Never send money or gifts to a love interest you haven’t actually met. It’s a romance scam.

  • Stop communicating with the person immediately.
  • Search online for the type of job the person says they have. See if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “US Army scammer.”
  • Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. If it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam. 
  • Never wire money to a stranger, or pay anyone with gift cards. If someone asks you to wire money or pay with gift cards, report it to the FTC at

For more information, read What You Need to Know About Romance Scams. And check out this video.

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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

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.

Don't use your…
February 12, 2020
what you all do to let people know about all these scams etc. is great!! keep up the great work
Wondering Grandma
February 12, 2020
How does one do a reverse image search? I never heard of that. Hope someone answers my question. Thanks.
February 23, 2020

In reply to by Wondering Grandma

When you open and right click an image on a website, there is an option that shows "Search Google for image". If there are many results, you can see whether the original sites look reliable (original social media pages) or fake (a stock image, or taken from someone else's name and website).
February 12, 2020
Thank you for posting this. I had one about seven years ago trying to scam me. I tried to let others know but one woman cussed me out, telling me I was jealous. I wrote to a few other women, they looked up the info I sent them and they thanked me. I filed a complaint many years ago with your office and the FBI, finally glad something is being written about it. Great work.
February 13, 2020
I just reported my horrible losses to FTC today. It started 2016, l was so naive. Just learning to use internet. When I saw a pop up called Hangouts. Had no idea what or who it was. When l clicked it. This guy claiming he was an oil rig worker. Said he was stranded on the oil rig. Copter left without him. He needed to get off the rig. I lost 40 thousand in wires. Something about internet changes you. I had never been so trusting with my money before. It seems scammers really know what to say and brainwash you. I worked hard for my money caus l came from a poor background immigrated here in 1964. Another one scammed me stating if l don't send the money the police will come to arrest me right at my door. I actually believed her & sent 93 thousand. It was a Military Scam. Her name was Margaret Eldorado. Man name Bernard Mills.
April 18, 2020

In reply to by Nighthawke

I was actually scammed as well. Romance scam. I’ve lost over $180k. I’m sick.
Baker 1576
October 29, 2020

In reply to by Nighthawke

I have been scammed out of $50000 + by an oil rig worker. Did he use George with you?
Wyntah Sno
December 13, 2020

In reply to by Nighthawke

This is the same way my scammer started with me. I knew not to mess with big money tho. I don't trust or cash checks I can't cover. This was just prior to Halloween. Then he kept pressuring me for lots of other way to scam me...
February 13, 2020
Ditto, i think this should be a daily feature on local news. Very important.
February 13, 2020
GREAT STORY. But sadly this happens to a lot of people. Scammers don't care about you one bit, they have one goal and one goal only--to rip you off and take as much money from you as they can. They will talk to you and give you a story and ask you to help them so they can come to see you. The problem is if this was true, why would they need money from you? Especially if they say they are a doctor, in the military, or they live overseas and need money to get over to America to see you. ANYTIME someone asks you for money on the phone, hang up & block the number. Do you want to support someone who is out for only one thing--your money? NO. So, instead of giving them information, call your local police department, the FBI, or the FTC BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING ANYTHING. Tell them what is going on & they will tell you "It sounds like a scam" and what to do. BUT NEVER GIVE ANYONE MONEY, A CREDIT CARD #, GIFT CARD OR PIN #, OVER THE PHONE. This way you will not get scammed, you'll still have YOUR money and you will be glad you did. Good Luck
February 13, 2020
Thank you for these write ups. They are “explain like I’m 5” easy to read and quite informative. It’s too easy for us not to think rationally when emotions are strong especially with online dating.
Feeling Dumb
February 13, 2020
One of the worst things about this, besides the $$ lost, is the way people react to you! Be it a high ranking government official to a bank teller, they can be cruel. I don't know if all of them realize it or not! The teller that says, oh when did you fall for that? The Government guy that says directly to you, did you really believe it? I just want to run and hide!
One Smart Cookie...
February 14, 2020
Also please be careful when you are playing games online with strangers. I had a guy try to develop a relationship with me on Words with Friends. I immediately shut him down and changed my profile picture and wouldn't accept any more games with him.
Concerned daughter
March 11, 2020

In reply to by One Smart Cookie...

Was just wondering what his name was? Have some concerns about my mom talking to a guy she met on Words with Friends.
July 29, 2020

In reply to by Concerned daughter

I would like to know also. My "friend" was Leonard Pietro, left for an oil rig about two weeks into chatting. I met him on Words with Friends, too. Said all the right things. Thank goodness I caught on before any money was sent.
Baker 1576
October 29, 2020

In reply to by One Smart Cookie...

I did also on Words with friends. Was his name George?
Donna Marie
February 18, 2020
I just broke off texting with a man named Philip Dan Amancio. He told me he is working in Singapore. He puts together solar panels. About 65 with gray beard . Sweet talked for 2 weeks. Asked for money because he didn’t have enough to pay his workers. I said no! He blocked me and stopped communicating with me. Watch out ladies for his sweet promises. He is a scammer. He is still on POF as Capt Dan from SanAntonio texas
Wondering Grandma
February 16, 2020
I've been following the info about scams. Very interesting, but don't know what reverse pictures means. Could someone enlighten me? I
February 18, 2020
I meet this man he said his name was Richard Ginter and he was in army currently stationed in Syria but was very vague with his location in Syria but said he was headed back to the States in 3 month when his your was over and home was ATL. He said he was an only child and his parents died in a car accident and had no other family. The third day he started asking for money and or prepaid card. REDFLAGS . So I started reading about what's going in Syria and when I would ask him he would give the same answer " we're just trying to keep peace over here" no knowledge about what's going on. I was always baby, honey, queen. These scammer are really good at what they do and know what to say to get ur trust. I'm glad I started reading other people story I could have lose out on so much.
DJohnsonMour e…
February 11, 2021

In reply to by Freckles

Is it possible we could have the same one? Mine is military. Stationed in Lyria. Has 1 daughter stays home with nanny. .while he is deployed. From Argentina, strict cathlic. He states lives in lexington kentucky. About 40 dark hair.. Built like brick house. Tons of tattoos on arms. Lost wife 2 years ago to breast cancer.
DJohnsonMour e…
February 11, 2021

In reply to by Freckles

Is it possible we could have the same one? Mine is military. Stationed in Lyria. Has 1 daughter stays home with nanny. .while he is deployed. From Argentina, strict cathlic. He states lives in lexington kentucky. About 40 dark hair.. Built like brick house. Tons of tattoos on arms. Lost wife 2 years ago to breast cancer.
February 21, 2020
I want to share this story so everyone in the world will be aware. I met a guy from London, UK. His name is Pietro Edward, he said he is a Doctor, famous and rich. This guy send a friend request to me through Facebook last December 29, 2019 then accepted him. We started chatting and became friends untill we develop a relationship. Then a few weeks later, he asked for my complete home address because he wants to surprise me of sending gifts, which are of valuable items, like gold bracelets, perfumes, signature bags, iphone and a macbook laptop. Then last week February 13, 2020, there is this agent that flew from London to the Philippines and hand carried the package with those gifts that the doctor wants me receive and delivered to me at my work place. This agent name is Stev Abel, said to be working as an agent at Eagle Logistics Global. After landing at the airport, there is this lady said to be working at Customs in Metro Manila, and said the boss will not release the package because it contains valuable items and large amount of money amounting to $5,000 and the doctor did not declare that there is a large amount of money in the package and they want me to send money to pay for custom tax and clearance. They asked me to deposit P100,000 pesos to the lady's account at PS BANK that said to be working at Customs. Then this agent keep me posted on my work email that the money had been deposited to the lady's bank account and the next day they were asking me again to deposit P120,000 pesos because they say it contains a very large amount of money like $300,000 US Dollars and had to pay more for taxes which i deposited to the same name of the Lady but with a different account. The agent that said to be working at Eagle Logistic and the lady promise to deliver my package February 17, 2020 then nobody came, the agent told me that the customs didn't want to release him because of carrying a very large amount of money and said that it is a money laundering and they were asking for documents and they want me to deposit again P180,000 pesos and cannot afford anymore to send that amount of money, so i told the agent to go back to where he came from. He said when he get back to London, UK they will process an offshore account for me under my name even if i am living here in the Philippines and deposit the $300,000 US Dollars to a savings account they will make. Now this agent Stev Abel emailed me and informed me that he already got back to London, UK February 19, 2020 carrying the package with him. His next move, he went to the bank to let the package be open which contains a code. He was asking me the code, and i informed the doctor that the agent need the code and he said i should trust him so they can process opening an account for me, so the doctor gave me the code and also gave it to the agent. Now, they process an account for me under G CREDIT BANK with all my details, complete name, home address, work email, contact numbers and a photo of me, after processing the account there is this email sent to me that i should click on the link containing my username, password and accesscode and i should contact this guy named David Caster he is a team division head of the G CREDIT BANK in London and they want me to start transferring money to my own bank account here in the Philippines, i do not know what to do now. I think i have been scammed by this people. I do not know where they came from, they victimized innocent people without any knowledge regarding this. I am just so scared and do not know what to do.
FTC Staff
February 21, 2020

In reply to by spottie

Yes, this sounds like a scam. Some scammers meet people online and promise to send a package with valuable gifts, gold, jewelry, computers, etc.  They really don't send a package, but suddenly someone tells you to send money for taxes, customs fees or other charges to an accomplice who is working with the first scammer. If you refuse to pay, or run out of money, they stop communicating.

Also, the scammer may be trying to involve you in transferring stolen money.

He doesn't tell you the money is stolen - he will tell a story to hide the true purpose. He asks you to open a bank account with your identity documents, and receive and transfer money.

If you do this for a scammer, your name is on the bank account and on the money transfer forms. If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.

You can stop communicating. You can block the texts or emails. If he has your bank or credit card numbers, you can ask for new numbers. You can report his account to Facebook.

May 03, 2020

In reply to by spottie

Sounds familiar. I met someone on Bumble and he is from UK too. He wants to send me gifts as part of Ramadan tradition. He asked me what I like but I actually do not want anything from him as we haven't yet. Long story short, he asked me to help him get money for his contract in Singapore, 200k dollars. I don't know where he got the idea i have that much and if i'm a moron enough to give to him. I blocked him right away. He looked like Sean Connery..
February 20, 2020
How can this be stopped if Mom TRULY believes the man loves her? She has sent him thousands! Family intervention doesn't work. She just disowned us over it. He claims he is a 4 Star General in Belgium and keeps promising he is retiring and coming to meet "the love of his life" in two weeks (again), as he keeps making excuses for rescheduling this meeting. She will be broke before this is over and the entire inheritance will be gone.
February 21, 2020
happened to me too, i was on a dating app for plus size women called bustr and a guy messaged me saying he'd like to get to know me and start a relationship and then he offered a sugar baby kind of situation and supposedly paid on two of my credit cards but he really hacked into my accounts made a fake payment so that it appeared to have cleared then asked me to send him ebay cards, it blocked him and kept the messages to show my bank because his payment big surprise bounced and i ended up having to pay money to my bank for it and now my account is compromised. i reported everything to my bank including the situation and reported his phone and email address.
February 25, 2020
Does anyone know a Carlos M. Marshall? He says he is in the US Army. He sent me pictures and loop two videos, which I know means. They've been pre-recorded. I have been stupid and I send him money because he said he was sending me a box with his personal papers and some gifts in it. I ended up borrowing money. To help him get the box which of course never arrived. Then he said that he was on his way home and I sent him more money for leave. And now he says he's been arrested and he is in a city called Doha Qatar. And he said that he is in jail and needs money. Cabela get out. I wanted so much to believe that he was real but after all this time and it's been 6 months. I'm just ready to give up.
Don't use your…
February 24, 2020
There is a guy on plenty of fish dating app he says he is n the army and has a daughter in Ghana that he needs to buy a ticket for in order to get back to the state's . He is asking ladies on the site to send him money first he has someone to email you saying the child is sick trying to make you feel sorry for him then he start asking for money he goes by the name James Zuma graves and his accomplice is Owens abhram please ladies beware he is a disgrace to the military he even has pictures posted but takes them down once he meets you if I could post a picture of who he is using I would because he sent me several but they might not be him
February 25, 2020
Scammer alert***Chris Thomas from Ohio is scamming women for $ gift cards and bitcoin. Beware. He states he’s a widow with a 15 year old daughter. An engineer that is in the Gulf of Mexico as an I depdent contractor. He uses marinechristhomas at gmail as his email address too
April 26, 2020

In reply to by chris

His daughter was she blonde did you get a picture or 50 of him. I was told she was 13. Just the name Thomas you said this one used Thomas along with other names on Facebook too.
Don't use your…
February 27, 2020
Started talking to a man from ok Cupid who switched over to Whatapp yo communicate further. Said he lived in Charleston but was from Germany originally and was in Johannesberg working for an oil company for 2-3 months. Said his name was Henrik Hauerberg, had a German accent but with a touch of African as well. Said his wife died 4 years ago and hadn’t dated since. Said he had a 13 year old Son left with a Nanny. After a few weeks he caught me off guard and asked me to stop into Walmart and buy a prepaid card so his Son could play video games, he was bored, this continued for several days. I didn’t send a dime. Next it was money he needed for lodging that he owed two weeks on, I told him he can’t stay anywhere without paying a hotel in advance. He said he invested his money in bitcoin, lol, and he would get the money back to me. Even after I told him an elaborate story about how I was broke and when he got paid if I could borrow some from him, he kept professing his undying love.
March 04, 2020

In reply to by Don't use your…

That sounds far to familiar! I was scanned on a dating sight also. He was from Des Moines and was out of the country working as a independent contractor and his wife had passed and he had his 10 year old daughter with him over there. He went to fly home and they told him he owed them money for money he made there. After telling him to contact his worker, family, friends I told him to send me a copy of his passport so if he tried to screw me out of the money I would go after him. Well long story short I ended up giving in due to his daughter being stuck in a foreign country. I bought 1600.00 in I tune cards for him and have never heard a work from him! BEWARE LADIES THEY ARE CROOKS!!!
December 26, 2020

In reply to by Don't use your…

Scammer says he is with Ukraine army in Afghanistan - peacekeeping mission. Uses name Colonel Denis Fedorovich. Usual love conversation. Always going to visit me. I have lost a large amount of money. Supposedly also has San Francisco home. Divorced - 60 Handsome man in photos. Probably Nigerian scam
Kindly 12
February 28, 2020
Mom is being scammed by person pretending to be4 star general tod wolters- she will not believe someone is impersonating him. She is 82!years old and the General is 59-says he wants to marry her is coming to see her never does and has taken her for over 69,000.00-she is willing to give up her family for him.. anyone ever encounter a scam with this name?
March 05, 2020
I think each and every dating website should make every new potential user watch a video on the risks with online dating scams before they can sign up-even if the user is a scammer. At least this way most people have been made aware. Sooo many people are clueless and it is so sad. I know I was once a victim. Thank god my loss was minimal but even still, afterwards you tend not to trust anyone after that point. So I use my loss to try n help others if I can or if they will listen. I was one of the lucky ones so at speak.
victim of roma…
March 09, 2020

In reply to by GodsDivaaa

Hello GodsDivaa, Can you please tell me how did you post your comment on this site? I had submitted my comment by using the link above " Add new comment" 2 days ago, but I still can't see my story on here. I did file my complaint at FTC. Like you, I would like to use my loss to warn other peoples about this fraud. Do you have any advise what I have to do: make a report to Police Department if I have his picture? Can someone of you help me for this? Thank you so much.
March 09, 2020

In reply to by GodsDivaaa

I agree 100%. I just got scammed for $1350 from HER, a lesbian dating site. What a FOOL I AM!!!!
April 19, 2021

In reply to by fool101

Did she call her self Mary or Ingrid? I almost got tricked too
March 06, 2020
I am from the Philippines and I wrote regarding a man I was chatting with and introduced himself as a military doctor with the UN based in Iraq. He was also asking for money around 950USD being required by the UN for him to terminate his contract. He introduced himself as Dr. Morgan Steven or Steven Morgan.
February 04, 2021

In reply to by Asianlady

The man whom i chatted with also claimed that he is a un government doctor and he called himself klaus benardo he asked me to send him money in order to pay ransom for his daughter who was kidnapped by the terrorists of course I guessed what was happening and didn’t send it him
March 06, 2020
One going around now. Name of Helmut Walter from Texas originally from Gera in Germany. Marine Engineer for Shell or contractor. Works on oil rig in Gulf of Mexico. Even sends video of the helicopter flying into the rig and picture in kit once on board. Very convincing at first. Has 15 year old daughter named Alondra in boarding school Wife died of cancer 4 years ago. Use pictures of a very good looking man. I called him out on it and he confessed he was not the guy in the picture. Even sent me a video of himself, professing his love for me and how we could be together. Talked on WhatsApp. Called me about 30 times when I told him no. I hope this helps someone from getting scammed. He asked for money but I never sent it. That’s when I really knew. He is a young Nigerian guy.
March 10, 2020

In reply to by Michelec

Hello, my heart jumps when I read your story. I checked the name and what popped out is the same picture of the guy whom I talked before. But his daughter name given to me was Melissa. What caught my attention is the place you mentioned in here. Thank you for sharing. He is still in Instagram.
July 12, 2020

In reply to by aquablue

I think he is still on instagram. Someone fitting all these descriptions contacted me. He hasnt asked for cash but I am sure that is coming
July 08, 2020

In reply to by Michelec

What is the young nigerian's name? There are so many of them. Anyone know a Pedro Johnson from Columbus, Ohio? - he is a Scammer, beware he is a young Nigerian also. Pretending to be an Engineer!
September 03, 2020

In reply to by Michelec

This sounds like the same one that is scamming me now. The oil rig
September 23, 2020

In reply to by Michelec

I had the same experience, also an oil rig and a helicopter, but I really felt that he was sincere. I don't know what to think of it. We talked on wattsapp and, yes after some time he asked for $100,000.-. I didn't sent it of course. But I think he was sincere, he apologized and said he wanted to marry me. Had a daughter named Lisa. We made appointment for him to come to me, that he would take me home with him and start a garage. But when I said that I didn't trust him, I never heard from him again. It does hurt. He is still on
victim of roma…
March 06, 2020
I started dating with a man on Facebook messenger since Jan '20. His profile on Facebook: named Dinh Nguyen, works at BMW, lives in Lansing, Michigan. His company sell or supply car parts of major auto dealers like BMW, Rang Rover, Toyota, etc. He should travel a lot for his business to Malaysia, Japan, or UK, etc. for a variety of contracts with partners. I was so stupid to trust him and believe everything he told me. On the day he had to travel to Malaysia for his company's final contract with dealers, he said: "He already sent me 2 boxes as birthday gifts, because he was not sure if he would arrive on time for my birthday". Two days before my birthday I received a message from a stranger, called Delivery Agent, named Michael. I paid this guy by buying iTunes cards for the customs fee and delivery fee. I know I am stupid and I already lost my money. I still have his profile picture. Can any one of you please let me know if I am allowed to post his picture and phone numbers on Facebook? I just want to warn other woman about this guy. I do not want many women to fall victim to this scammer. Thank you. I already made a report to FTC about this case.
March 12, 2020
A service member who says he’s a security intelligence Sargent in Syria going by the name of Hilson Jackson an the whole story is the same as everyone else’s an needs 10.000 to get leave from the military to come to marry me
Celebrity scam
March 23, 2020
See fake Driver license Scammer for Trace Adkins asking for investments and wants to hack you Social media accounts and checking don’t give any of the info .
March 27, 2020
Has anyone heard of Ashley Scott, Blaire Scott, Michael Vincent Socoral or Angel Socoral? Met Ashley on dating site. Never showed up for date. Had emergency mother died in Philippines. She and sister Blaire went there. Got robbed as soon as the got there. Getting ready to fly back to US and was kidnapped. At each stage asked for money. Has any guy had this happen to them?