A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims˜ money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.




A rapidly growing technique scammers are using is to impersonate American military personnel. Scammers prefer to use the images, names and profiles of soldiers as this usually inspires confidence, trust and admiration in their female victims. Also because military public relations often posts information on soldiers without mentioning their families or personal lives. Images are stolen from sites like this one:, by organized internet crime gangs often operating out of Nigeria or Ghana. They tell their victims that they are lonely, looking to retire and settle down with a new love – but while they are deployed elsewhere, they concoct stories about needing special phones to communicate, supporting an orphanage with their own monies, needing financial assistance because they can’t access their own monies in a combat zone, etc. The lies are too numerous and various to list them all. The scammer will say anything to get the victim to send money. And the money is always sent to a third party to be collected for the scammer. Sometimes the third party is real and sometimes the are fictitious as well. Funds sent by Western Union and MoneyGram do not have to be claimed by anyone showing identification if the sender sends money using a secret pass phrase and response and can be picked up anywhere in the world, in this manner


Scammers post profiles, using stolen photographs of attractive persons, asking for others to contact them. This is often known as catfishing. Letters are exchanged between the scammer and victim until the scammer feels they have groomed the victim enough to ask for money. This might be for requests for gas money or bus and airplane tickets to travel to visit the victim, medical expenses, education expenses etc. There is usually the promise that the fictitious character will one day join the victim in the victim’s country. The scam usually ends when the victim realizes they are being scammed or stops sending money. Victims can be highly traumatized by this and are often very embarrassed and ashamed when they learn they have become a victim of a scam and that the romance was a farce.

In some cases, online dating services are themselves engaged in misrepresentation, displaying profiles which have been fabricated, which use personal information from users who have not agreed to be depicted on the site  or by presenting outdated or out-of-region profiles as current and local.

Scammers post profiles on dating websites, social accounts, classified sites and even forums to groom new victims. Upon finding victims, scammers lure them to more private means of communication, (such as providing an e-mail address) to allow for fraud to occur. The fraud typically involves the scammer acting as if they’ve quickly fallen for the victim so that when they have the opportunity to ask for money, the victim at that time has become too emotionally involved, and will have deep feelings of guilt if they decline the request for money from the scammer.



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