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If an online love interest asks you for money - that's a scam. #RomanceScams

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you or your friends might be thinking about love. But not everyone is — some are just looking to get into your pockets. Read on so you can spot and report scammers before they trick someone you care about out of money.

Romance scammers might contact you on social media or dating apps saying they want to get to know you. It’s true love, they say, but they live too far away to meet. Maybe because of work, or because they’re in the military.

Then they start asking for money: it could be for a plane ticket, surgery, or something else urgent — or even to “help” you invest in cryptocurrency. In fact, check out the just-released Data Spotlight for the low-down on the lies that romance scammers use to bait their trap — and to see how much money they raked in last year.

So, how do you spot a romance scam?

  • If an online love interest asks you for money, that’s a scam. Period. Don’t send a reload, prepaid, or gift card; don’t wire money; and don’t send cryptocurrency to someone you met online.
  • If someone appears on your social media and rushes you to start a friendship or romance, slow down. Talk to someone you trust before you respond.
  • If you suspect someone is a scammer, cut off contact. Tell the online app or social media platform right away, and then tell the FTC at
  • Most importantly, talk about what you know with your friends and family. Romance scams can be particularly complicated because once they start, it can feel embarrassing to talk about them. But let your friends and family know that you’re there to listen. You could help save them money — and heartache.

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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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Roberta McGee
February 09, 2023

I think I might be in a scam situation right now. I was first contacted by a guy approximately two years ago. He reached out to me on the Fitbit app and then moved to the WhatsApp. Here's where I'm confused. YES I have sent him gift cards for his work and for transportation back home. I've been limiting contact with him somewhat but he has two boys that I have also sent gift cards to for things for school. However I'm thinking that even though he's sent pictures of him and the boys I'm feeling like he's hacked someone else account. He's wanting me to send him $4800 for his travel agent to fly him to the United States. Apparently he lives in Houston he's widowed his kids are left in the care of a family friend. I've refused to send him any more money and now he's verbally abusive to me and I don't take any messages from him. I'm guessing (along with embarrassment) that I've been scammed. I kept trying to help him out bc of his kids (their mother has passed away) but I'm thinking that there is no kids. Could this be a scam? I'm thinking it is.

Amber Jackson
February 10, 2023

In reply to by Roberta McGee

There's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that there are no children going without necessities because you refuse to give this person more money. The bad news is that this is because it is 100% a scam. I'm so terribly sorry that you are one of the thousands of people that are taken in by this each year.
Please block this person on all social media and report them to the authorities. As soon as possible find someone you can trust to talk to (in person) about what has happened to you, you are not alone. This was a serious breach of trust and a crime that was committed against you.
Be well, Amber

February 10, 2023

In reply to by Roberta McGee

Yes Roberta it's a definite scam. They're very good at what they do. This is a job, career for them. I've experienced more then once. They start off taking an interest in everything you do even religious interests. Please trust your instincts. The first time this happened to me the guy asked me to invest 5 grand in crypto currency. I said no. I don't have that kind of money. He tried guilt tripping me into doing it. I cut off all communication. The next guy also used religion but he did something extra... he video called me through Facebook messenger. So I knew what he looked like. But Roberta it was a definite scam because he quit his job and started asking me to help him attend school. I won't lie to you I did help him at first but I realized it was a scam. I'm not rich, not by long shot. His asking became more elaborate. Because of me facebook deactivated his account but he just created another one. I Limit my association on social media now.

February 10, 2023

In reply to by Roberta McGee

If your gut tells you, it's a lie, then it's a lie.
Stop sending anyone you don't really know (like in person and can verify they are who they say they are) money.
Also, don't volunteer. If they try to put you on the spot...tell them that you have to weigh the information. Let them wait it out.
Good luck!

May 19, 2023

In reply to by Roberta McGee

Roberta, whether it’s a scam you are going through or a real person, they are most definitely taking advantage of your kindness for wanting to help him and his kids. You do not awe anything to this person and it’s not your responsibility to sponsor him or his kids by sending them gift cards. You are not married to him nor dating him in real life. Even if the man and kids are real, you should ask yourself where the grandparents are, uncles, aunties, etc. and why aren’t they helping, why go to a stranger like yourself. It hurts learning you’ve been taken advantage of, but I hope you can let go, learn from the experience, and raise your standards a little more. You deserve to be treated with respect and you shouldn’t take any verbal abuse from any man. You have the power to stop the harassment and abuse from this man. Block his number and if he contacts you again from a different number, tell him not to contact you again, and block him again, or better yet delete your WhatsApp. There are many other apps and ways to communicate other than WhatsApp, scammers prefer that app because once they are blocked all communication is automatically erased. When you report a number, WhatsApp doesn’t do anything about it. Most likely the person you’ve been in touch with, is contacting you from another country and they can’t show up at your doorstep. If they threaten you that they know where you live, you can file a police report, but most likely it’s baseless threats to scare you into giving them more money. If you sent him naked pics of yourself and he blackmails you with them, file a police report and FTC report, and stop communicating with him. Most scammers are not sophisticated enough to do anything with such pics, but if he does, know many women have gone through such experiences and you are not alone, you’ll get through it. You can either face the consequences until the news blows off or deny that’s you in the pics and that someone photoshoped them. You can even change the color of your hair today and the way you do your makeup to celebrate a new beginning free of this man, and that you look and feel different now. This man will try anything to get you to continue sponsoring him through gift cards. Intimidation techniques work and since you’ve given him money before, he knows he can get more, so he will most likely become even more verbally abusive and will threaten you with various things to loop you into giving him more gift cards for years to come. You can be entangled into abusive online fake relationship and blackmailed for 10 years or more or until you reach a point of no return unless you do something now. So many people have taken their life to end the psychological abuse from such scammers or from out of shame for falling for such scam for years. Don’t be a victim, seize all communications with this man, be a woman who is educated about romance scams and use this experience as a lesson. You’ve given 2 years of your life already to this evil man, please don’t give him another minute even. I hope in the future you develop a personal rule, that if you don’t meet in-person within 2 weeks of contact from any online encounter, you should seize all communications with such person, because they are either a scammer or emotionally unavailable. You have to chose to become stronger and be ready to cut ties with people who don’t meet your standards. Don’t make excuses for them, love yourself more and know you deserve the love you’ve always dreamed of. Men who don’t measure up to your standards or how you want to be treated are mere distractions that should be dumped and avoided, so that you are free and open to meet your future husband who will treat you better than you’ve ever imagined. There are many good and kind men still in this society, who are also single, because they too were distracted by a scammer or someone who didn’t appreciate them. You just have to notice them and shift your focus on spotting them, because they are all around you. Now that you know what a scammer and a user looks like, take note of their tactics and stay away from anyone that uses the same tactics. For example, stay away from anyone who quickly after chatting with you tells you to switch communicating through WhatsApp or another app (if they can approach you online, they can continue chatting on the same platform until you meet in person, no need to switch to WhatsApp). Having a mental note to stay away from familiar tactics, you should be able to spot good men, which as I said are all around you, you just have to notice them. Choose to be loved and it will happen. Good luck with everything!

Linda T.
February 24, 2023

In reply to by Roberta McGee

Yes, you are being scammed. I had a man contact me online a few years ago. He said he was a widower, had two children and that he lived overseas. He wanted me to send him money for a camera of all things. He sent me photos of his family and in one of the photos was a beautiful blond woman. I asked who she was, and he said she was his late wife. That the picture was old and that was the only one he had of him and his children. This went on for a couple months until he asked me to send him a hug amount of money so that he could come to the US to visit me. I let that hang for a few days and then cut off all communications with him. Now, as I said this as a few years ago. I'm so luck that I never sent him a dime. I heard another woman had conversations with him. So, I figured he was looking for someone who had deep pockets. Well, that was not me. I would just stop all communications with him, do not give him anything, phone number, address etc. I hope you stay safe.

February 24, 2023

In reply to by Roberta McGee

Lady don’t do it. That guy is lying to you. Why he leave his kids with someone and be already living with there own parent. So that’s another lie. Don’t offer any type of funds to any person. That person has own problems with money he can apply for cash aid if he is that broke. And if the wife died. He should of received death benefits for the kids. Did he show you proof he received that. I bet not. He is using someone else’s pics to make you feel bad for him. To lure you in his trap. And the guy already being abusive is another sign. Block him. Block the number on WhatsApp too.

Shirley Pickard
May 02, 2023

No I'm not on a dating app.

Edward Pajakinas
February 10, 2023

All the scammers are on Facebook if Facebook continues to let the scammers survive on Facebook shame on them Facebook has to be vigilant about their screening of real people and scammers it's all on Facebook

Annis Skemp
February 16, 2023

Dear webmaster, You always provide helpful information.

Kim Collins
February 27, 2023

I met a guy online who is an SSgt in the US army and a paratrooper....apparently. He says he is retiring from the military at the end of next month and applying for permanent residency in Australia as his mum is Australian. But he wants my mygov username and password because he said he needs 3 aussie citizens to verify him. He said his mums 2 friends have helped him out. I mentioned this made me uncomfortable giving my personal info. He said he was disappointed but it was my choice if I didn't want to help him. So he doesn't seem to be pressuring me BUT he said he was upset that I thought he wasn't genuine. He sounds like the perfect guy. He can't video chat because his phone got wet on a jump. I can't find any info on him. No fb or insta and I can't find him google searches. Is there anyway I can find out if he is real. Said he's based in Seattle but has been in Texas with work this last week. Any advice would be grateful