Romance Scams have become increasingly prevalent with the rise of the internet. In today’s fast-paced world, where everything from banking to dating can be done online, it’s essential to be aware of the potential pitfalls of online dating, including romance scam characteristics.
The alarming surge in scammers creating fake profiles on social media platforms and dating sites has led to an alarming increase in victims. Many individuals have fallen victim to these scams, losing substantial money. It’s crucial to acknowledge that online dating can be successful, but without taking necessary precautions, the risk of financial loss remains ever-present.
To protect yourself and gain insight into the common tactics employed by scammers to deceive and exploit their victims, we invite you to delve into this comprehensive blog post. By understanding the methods used by scammers, you can navigate the online dating landscape more safely.
What exactly is a Romance Scam?
Any fake profile on social media apps or dating websites that loots people looking for a companion is categorized as a Romance Scam. Using history as a guide, the crooks operating behind the scenes seem to be located in foreign countries and usually target people in the Western hemisphere.
The scam is very sophisticated, and it takes a long time for the culprits to earn the users’ trust. However, once they have the individuals hooked, they will use a variety of tactics to extract anywhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars from the victims.
According to some reports, most developed countries like the UK, the US, and other European nations lose millions of dollars to scams related to Dating and Romance. So, be cautious using any online app, and never let your guard down.
How do Romance Scammers reach their victims?
Apart from the scammers, this is a mysterious question that no one can answer. Looking back at the data we have gathered over the years, usually, the connection is established via social media platforms and dating sites. The crooks will create attractive-looking profiles that contain all the trending aspects, such as widespread interest, matching social circles, etc.
Once an individual has fallen into the trap, they will get overly emotional with them and try to establish passive-aggressive dominance. They might even ask the victims to do small tasks, such as rerouting a package or delivering something to build a rapport. After they gather enough details about the person on the other end, they will take it to the next level and ask for money directly or indirectly.
Common Romance Scam Traits
Most scams have a specific ever-present pattern, and romance scams are no exception. The two dead giveaways in this category are a sense of emergency and desperate communication attempts. For example, scammers will usually pretend to have some personal emergency or go through a tough time and ask their counterparts to help them financially.
If the user ignores the calls or messages, they usually will become desperate and try their best to make their presence felt. Nonetheless, people should never let these tactics fool them because if you believe their stories and send them money, you will never get it back. Below, we have outlined a few more classic traits.
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Fake Profiles and Catfishing
As we mentioned before, the very first move of scammers would be to create a loveable profile by using fake information and pictures. They might purchase a stock image or steal it from somewhere else and use it for their benefit. Either way, the profiles would be too perfect and wouldn’t contain much specific information about their whereabouts.
If you like someone or have received any messages from strangers, take it slow and try to know more about their background before proceeding. Remember, there is no point in rushing things.
Asking for Money
The crooks are masters when it comes to deception. From coming up with fake heartbreaking stories to narratives, they can turn anything in their favor. Their most common script contains scenarios involving a medical situation, going through operations themselves, or the death of a loved one.
Sometimes, they might even use emotional tactics and talk about their hypothetical situations in life, such as going through periods of financial uncertainty, heartbreaks, etc. However, in the end, they will all circle back to the same thing: money. To keep yourself safe, always be vigilant and never let these made-up stories affect your decision-making process.
Luring Victims to Unknown Locations
This is a new trend, even in the Romance Scam niche. Crooks orchestrating this type of crime usually makes the most amount of money. They start by buying gifts for the users and earning their trust by showering them with other expensive gifts.
Unsuspecting individuals will think that they have found the perfect partner and will be eager to do anything to get in touch with them. As the victims are emotionally invested, the crooks can get them to any place they want, and once they show up, the story will never end well. The present risk is enormous, and you should not mess around with things or people you are unsure about.
Actual Examples of Romance Scams
On May 1, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who claimed to have been scammed for more than $6,500:
A man pretended to be a soldier who was deployed and needed help getting back to the United States. He claimed that he was injured in a car accident and broke his leg, and needed assistance.
On June 2, 2023, a Chicago, Illinois, United States person filed the following complaint with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) about a Romance – CryptoCurrency/Investment Scam:
I fell victim to a “Romance Scam” where an individual named “Luke De Vries” deceived me. I suspect that this name is a cover. The scammer used stolen photos and videos of Wesley Adema, a Dutch reality show celebrity and real estate mogul, to create a false identity. Our initial communication took place briefly on Hinge, followed by Google Voice texts, and then we primarily used WhatsApp to communicate. “Luke” shared numerous photos and videos as himself, but they were actually images of Wesley and his son.
The scammer’s phone number appeared as (917) 983-0421 on Google Voice and (908) 224-4005 on WhatsApp. During our online “romance,” “Luke” offered to teach me how to trade on Quotex, a cryptocurrency trading exchange. He provided me with a link to quotexebs.com, which also appeared as fweqsnu.top/h5 when accessed through my Coinbase wallet mobile app. Although I hadn’t synced my Coinbase account to that mobile wallet, I did transfer funds multiple times from Coinbase to the scam exchange site.
With “Luke’s” guidance, I invested two loans and my withdrawn IRA into the scam exchange site. Following his instructions, I supposedly earned over $40,000 in profits within the platform. Initially, I successfully withdrew 200 USDT, and within 24 hours, I withdrew an additional 1600 USDT. On that same day, when I discovered that the videos “Luke” shared actually belonged to Wesley and not himself, I decided to withdraw the remaining balance of over $126,000.
Subsequently, the scam exchange froze my account and notified me that I would be fined a 10% risk deposit (equivalent to 13620.3 USDT) if I failed to pay the fine by May 30th, 2023. According to the exchange, they considered my money at risk due to the two withdrawals made in a single day. Failure to pay the fine would result in a 3% daily tax fee penalty, capped at 100% of the risk deposit.
Based on my understanding, the official Quotex site does not impose withdrawal fees nor have any withdrawal limits. It was at this point that I realized I had fallen victim to a scam. Presently, the scammer is attempting to persuade me to withdraw more money and pay the risk fee. However, after conducting research and confirming that quotexebs.com is indeed a scam site, I am unwilling to proceed with their requests.
The complainer provided the following information about the scammer:
- Location: White Plains, NY, USA
- Telephone: (917) 983-0421 (a New York City, NY, USA number)
Additional Complaints We’ve Received
One of our partners received the following complaint on July 6, 2023:
I fell victim to two separate cryptocurrency dating scams. The first was in 2022, and the second was in 2023. I lost more than $300K.
On September 3, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for $1000:
Mr. George Jankins, also known as Richard Farrell, has scammed me out of a minimum of $1,000 through online deception. He might be using other aliases as well. Under the guise of a romantic connection, he manipulated me into giving him money under the pretext of urgent need. Additionally, he accessed my personal email accounts and completed forms pretending to be me. This individual, whether going by George or Richard, managed to breach bank systems, notably targeting my bank. I even received a counterfeit check from this individual, urging me to cash it.
On September 7, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who was scammed for almost $30K:
I met Thomas online shortly after the death of my partner of many years. Grieving and vulnerable, I was quickly swept up by his romantic words and gestures. At first, he only asked for small amounts of money, but as time went on, his requests escalated to $750 a month. He promised that this financial support would enable him to move to where I live to be with me. Over the course of several years, I found myself wrapped in a web of lies, going as far as lying to my own family to cover for him.
The situation reached a breaking point when I fell short on rent for a new apartment. My youngest daughter asked why I couldn’t afford the $300 deposit, and, backed into a corner, I finally came clean about where the money had been going. I had regularly been sending Thomas $750 a month for years, and this particular month, I had only sent him $600, leaving me short of the deposit. Upon hearing the truth, my daughter became extremely angry and now wants nothing to do with me.
I feel shattered, my heart is broken, and I’m filled with regret. My poor choices have not only cost me financially but have also estranged me from my family, leaving me questioning the value of my life.
On September 21, 2023, we received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for $15K:
I recently connected with an individual online who introduced himself as a military personnel stationed in Germany. He mentioned that he could return home if a certain fee were covered. Trusting his words, I assisted with $15,000. I’ve since realized that this might not have been genuine. I kindly request guidance on addressing this situation and understanding if this is common.
On September 23, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for $9200:
I fell victim to a romance scam, and I fell for it completely. I sent the money through a Bitcoin transfer. It’s been four days, and I haven’t heard from him, but I have a lot of information that I believe can be helpful.
On September 24, 2023, another complaint came in from someone who reported being scammed for $8,000 in a Romance scam in the name of Johnny Depp.
On September 25, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for $50,000:
I was scammed by an individual claiming to be a military member stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. He is now threatening to expose various personal details about me unless I send him $16,000 to facilitate his return home.
On September 15, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for $70:
This lady wanted a “sugar baby.” She promised to pay me $3,000 for the first week and then $1,000 every subsequent week. However, she required me to send her $50 to register me on her payroll. I added the amount to my Cash App, converted it to Bitcoin, and then sent it to the wallet address: 3M7DQXkiehkkQx2LKjGpGcDFeiSjAAHzXy. Afterward, she claimed she needed an additional $111 for transaction fees, which I declined. Following a long conversation, she suggested I purchase a prepaid Visa card from Walmart, assuring me she would handle the rest. But later, she claimed that I had to bear the responsibility. When I contacted Cash App support, they confirmed it was her duty to cover the transaction fee. Yet, I sent her another $25 in Bitcoin. She then increased the payment offer to $5,500 but demanded an additional $51 for transaction fees. That was the final straw, prompting me to report her. She goes by “Momma Heather” on WhatsApp. I’ve reported her on WhatsApp, and now, I’m reporting her here. I hope this information prevents others from falling victim to such scams.
On September 20, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for at least $1,000 in Bitcoin:
Someone online, posing as an attractive female, promised to meet me and offer financial assistance. Knowing that I lived paycheck to paycheck, this scammer exploited my vulnerability. This individual even confronted an employee from my Ent Federal Credit Union’s fraud department. The bank employee rightly mentioned that they wouldn’t insure fraudulent transactions. The scammer later insisted that I go to the Ent headquarters to report the fraud investigator. In hindsight, Rebecca from Ent was correct. I am a man in my 40s and have faced challenges in dating. I believe the scammer capitalized on this. I’m out of thousands due to this scam. Please be cautious and spread the word.
On October 13, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint:
I met a woman named Anna Rozell on the dating site Plenty of Fish (www.pof.com). Soon after, our conversation moved to WhatsApp. We started a friendship, and everything seemed to be going well. Anna insisted on discussing Bitcoin investments, talking about substantial profits and steady incomes by investing money in Bitcoin short-term options in a secondary market. She mentioned that her uncle, an experienced financial analyst, had taught her a lot about predicting cryptocurrency price movements.
Instead of owning and holding the cryptocurrency, we would focus on investing money to predict price movements (up/down). With her mathematical formula and market knowledge, Anna assured me that she could predict the cryptocurrency’s up/down movements with 93% accuracy using Bitcoin short-term options in a secondary market.
Initially, I was suspicious, but everything appeared legitimate, gradually allowing Anna to gain my trust. However, the issues began when it was time to withdraw the money. Initially, I was allowed to withdraw $5,000 from my trading account. But when I requested to withdraw the entire amount and refused to transfer any more money, the company, Bitgo, and Anna froze my trading account. They began charging various fees to unfreeze my funds: $46K for “federal taxes,” $25K for “too many canceled transactions,” $10K for “risk margin,” and $10K for “mining fees.”
The account would temporarily be unfrozen, but once I requested a withdrawal, it would be frozen again, each time with additional charges. Eventually, they demanded a $86K “personal income tax” fee, which I declined to pay. Now, I cannot withdraw my funds as the account remains frozen.
I have maintained a complete record of the WhatsApp chats, wire transfer receipts, crypto exchange histories, photos, screenshots, and crypto digital addresses.
- Anna Rozell
- Phone: 775-382-5745
- Phone: 725-256-6899
- Phone: +86.1902378122
- Mingyang Lin
- Address: Changanjie167hao, Chuzhoushi, Anhui, Postal Code: 239000, China
- Phone: +86.19023781223
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bitgo URLs:
- bitgoopebs.com, Canonical name: zxbneqhj.cdn-os.com
- crypto-tantesrt.com, Canonical name: 9mfe3azj.cdn-os.com
- IP Addresses:
The approximate total amount sent in cryptocurrency, including investments and fees, is $200,000.00 USD.
On October 19, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint:
In the past couple of months, I encountered two scams. One individual approached me through a Facebook page linked to Oklahoma. He pretended to be someone else, which I could discern from his phrases and English usage. Ultimately, he abandoned his false identity as a Caucasian from Oklahoma and revealed himself as a Black man from Nigeria.
This individual kept relentlessly contacting me, even managing to find and follow me on Instagram. Simultaneously, another man approached me, expressing intense romantic interest and overwhelming me with affectionate messages, a tactic known as “love bombing.” Despite my efforts to evade him, he found and threatened me on Instagram.
I have taken measures to block and report both individuals on WhatsApp, preventing further harassment. There was a complex interaction where one scammer, Patrick, supposedly contacted the other, Victor, asking him to leave me alone, resulting in conflict.
These experiences left me questioning whether these scammers might be part of the same network or operating independently. I lost sixty dollars to Patrick after he requested funds for schooling in Nigeria. Victor also asked for money, but I declined his request.
On October 25, 2023, we received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for $ 4,000 in an inheritance scam:
I met someone on a dating site, and she told me she wanted to help me because I was severely hurt from being shot as an innocent bystander. She talked to me for months and said that her parents had just died, and she was receiving a large inheritance. She said she needed a signature from a man for the will because her father mandated that she be married to access the money. I have her real name and a photo of her license. She asked me to send her money, promising to return it once we received the inheritance.
On October 26, 2023, one of our partners received a complaint from a person who reported being scammed for $9K:
Two years ago, I met an individual on Facebook Dating named Anthony Frank Elmer, who also sometimes goes by Frank Elmer from Joplin, MO.
We communicated briefly before he traveled to Scotland for employment with an oil company. After his relocation, he began encountering various issues for which he requested financial assistance. Eager to help, I sent him money in the form of Bitcoin. I managed to retain his Dallas phone number and his Bitcoin code.
Anthony had promised to reimburse all the funds I lent him once he could access his bank. Unfortunately, this repayment never occurred. He has since become unresponsive, failing to reply to my texts or answer my calls.
On October 28, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for almost $3K:
I was searching for a romantic relationship, and as a gesture of trust, we decided to exchange bank account details. Unfortunately, only I shared my information; the other person did not reciprocate with their location or bank details. Subsequently, I sent money through Bitcoin using the address 12afwYHd2PHtVzyTXyA4S7FireefqeTAX2, only to find that all the money in my bank account had been stolen.
On October 28, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint:
I met someone who mentioned they were currently without money. Wanting to help, I used my two credit cards to purchase items for him, as he assured me he would repay the amount spent. He even promised to buy me a house and give me 1,500 in cash. However, I’m currently left with two unpaid credit card balances.
November 2023 Complaints
On November 9, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint:
My dad was scammed by a woman for over $117,000. He gave this amount to her to buy a house in Buffalo, New York, and she never paid him back, essentially stealing all his money. He was also conned into giving her $2,000 each month for 15 months. As of August 15, 2023, my dad has passed away. I have no way of affording his burial expenses as she has left my dad financially destitute.
AI-Quantify.com Phishing Scam
On October 26, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for over $100K through a phishing site at ai-quantify.com:
I recently became involved in what appears to be a concerning online situation that began on a dating platform. Here’s a summary of the events:
I connected with an individual through an online dating service. We started communicating, and things seemed fine initially. She mentioned a business trip she was about to embark on, making it impossible for us to meet in person. Although this raised my suspicions, she shared her driver’s license and passport photos, seemingly as proof of her identity. She introduced herself as a senior professional specializing in finance, taxation, audit, and accounting at Wells Fargo Bank.
She suggested I create Kraken and Trust Wallet accounts, guiding me to link these to ai-quantify.com via a browser. According to her instructions, becoming a premium member and depositing money into Trust Wallet would enable the website to invest on my behalf. She emphasized a straightforward process where I could continuously reinvest until deciding to withdraw my funds.
Subsequently, she advised me to visit the customer service page, urging me to apply for a savings pledge; I opted for a pledge of 300,000. However, complications arose when I attempted to access my funds. Customer service has been evasive and unhelpful, informing me that my money would be locked in the blockchain indefinitely unless I fulfilled the pledge. Additionally, they warned of a daily fee of 0.1% beyond November 21 if the deposit remains incomplete.
I am now confronted with an inability to retrieve my money and a lack of cooperation and clarity from the customer service team, which has left me uneasy and unsure about how to proceed.
The rules you must follow to maintain a down-low online profile are simple. For starters, never share too many details about your personal life. Do not put posts that reveal the location of your house, your social circle, or anything else that can be used to tackle you.
Also, do not share your sensitive information with strangers you come across online. More importantly, if anyone tries to get into your good books too fast and shows unusual interest, double-check their background or ignore interacting with them.
If you want to meet someone you know via the Internet, choose a crowded location so that the probability of something wrong happening will be low. If you feel insecure or notice something that shouldn’t happen, inform the appropriate authorities, and do not forget to contact local law enforcement agencies.
How to recover money from Romance Scams?
For some reason, the public thinks that money lost to these scams is not recoverable. However, that is not the case, and clearly, there are plenty of ways one can employ depending upon his or her situation. A call to the bank might be enough to find all the required information if the payment is made through credit or debit cards.
Note that banks may or may not be able to help recover your funds, but once you have the recipient account details, you can provide them to the recovery agencies to track the funds. The recovery process is a bit complicated for transactions done through other methods, such as gift cards, Western Union, and cryptocurrencies.
To know the best options to get back stolen money, depending on your case, contact our experts by filling out the contact form on our website. All of our services are free, and we never charge for consultation.
Report Romance Scams to Authorities
As Romance Scams are becoming more common, the authorities are doing their best to educate users about the threats in the sector. Compared to the vast number of dating sites present, it is indeed a challenging task for the officials to keep everyone updated. If you have encountered any scams, we encourage you to report them to your local Cyber Crime unit via email or phone.
Alternatively, you can use the official websites to raise the complaints. If the authorities don’t take action immediately or focus on your specific case, then do not get disappointed, and more importantly, don’t give up. Sooner or later, the crooks will be caught and eventually face the consequences.
If you are a romance scam victim, please share your experience by commenting below.
If you lost money online to scams, get a free consultation with one of our recommended scam recovery companies.
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