Online Dating Scam Steals Heart…and Cash

February 11, 2014

Scammers play on emotions and by invoking fear, anxiety or hope, they convince people to fall for cons they wouldn't rationally consider. Since there are few emotions stronger than love, romance scams are particularly lucrative. Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns about an online dating scam stealing not only hearts, but also cash. 

How the Scam Works:  

Consumers sign up for an online dating site. Later, they receive a message from someone (usually a man contacting a woman) claiming to work abroad or stationed overseas serving in the military.  

After exchanging a message or two through the dating website, the other person requests to communicate through email or a chat service and the exchange of emails and photos begins, including becoming friends on Facebook. (See fake account below)

 Fake Facebook Profile

Soon, the two are communicating daily. The new love interest says they want to use their upcoming leave to visit. There's just one problem, they don’t have money for the trip and ask to borrow some; you agree. After sending the cash, the new sweetheart suddenly stops communicating. (Or maybe sticks around long enough to ask for another loan.)

Tips to Spot a Romance Scam:

Online dating is a great way to meet "the one," but, unfortunately, it's also an easy way to encounter scammers. Be wary of anyone who:

  • Asks to talk or chat through an outside email or messaging service. Taking the conversation out of the dating site allows fraudsters to carry out scams without the site having a record of the encounter.
  • Claims to be from the U.S. but is currently traveling, living or working abroad. In addition to the military ploy described above, scammers also pretend to be temporarily working overseas. 
  • Has a suspicious Facebook profile: Scammers often use the names and photos of real people to create fake Facebook profiles. Fake profiles tend to have few friends and be rife with grammatical errors. Also, check to see when they joined. New pages are a red flag.
  • Asks for money or credit card information. In some cases, the scammer will claim an emergency, like a sick relative or stolen wallet, and ask you to wire money. The first wire transfer may be small, but the requests could keep coming and growing. Scammers may also ask for airfare to visit.
  • Sends emails containing questionable links to third-party websites. Third-party links can contain malware designed to steal personal information off your computer. Use caution when clicking on links.


About BBB of Central, Northern & Western Arizona 
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and 11,000 charities, all available free at Incorporated locally in 1938, BBB serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona serves 10 counties through its campuses in Phoenix, Lake Havasu City, Prescott and Yuma, supported by over 11,500 BBB Accredited Businesses. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to high standards of ethical business practices. BBB provides objective advice, free business reviews and charity reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.