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Online Dating Cons and Scams

Marcy has researched and written about relationships, domestic issues, dating, and con-artists for more than a decade.

How to spot con artists

Con artists often us fake photos on dating sites to lure victims into a 'relationship.'

Con artists often us fake photos on dating sites to lure victims into a 'relationship.'

Online dating has some risks!

His picture looks like he's a nice guy, and he's so cute. She's really young and sexy, and she said she wanted to meet you.

How could he be a gigolo?

How could she be so deceptive?

While many couples meet, date and even marry through online sites, not all online encounters lead to wedded bliss, and some can lead to financial or emotional disaster.

Sadly, these con artists don't wear signs telling you to beware and run the other direction. They are quite good at appearing honest and innocent, and extremely skilled in conning people out of their money, their virtue and their dignity.

Here are some common tricks used by professional scammers, and ways to avoid getting into their traps.

Online dating sites are prime hunting grounds for predators

Beware of con artists and scammers on dating sites.

Beware of con artists and scammers on dating sites.

How to spot predators

The written profiles of online scam artists on dating sites have gotten much trickier to spot in the past several years. The poor writing and bad spelling so common a few years ago is less often as evident; profiles can be expertly written these days. The best way to spot con artists through their profiles is to scrutinize the content. Here are some things to watch for:

Men targeting women: It's not unusual for these men to claim to be widowed, and frequently they will claim to have one young child (a son about eight years old seems to be common, for some reason, but it can be any age). They can also claim they're caring for an elderly parent.

Often, either in the profile or in one of the first messages they'll send, they'll mention they are 'working' in a foreign country. Be advised, the 'son' or elderly parent doesn't exist, and neither does Mr. Handsome Man. The con artist mentions the fake son or other relative to lay the groundwork for conning you out of money. More on that in a bit.

The rest of the profile can be written quite excellently - the reason is, they have cut and pasted paragraphs from real profiles and these are used to build the 'fake' profiles. Some less polished con artists are still new at the game, and you may still see profiles in broken English and poorly written (not just bad spelling by a real person), which can be a very strong indicator of a problem.

Does the profile specifically say they are an American Citizen? This very likely means it's a con artist. The reason is, real American Citizens don't go around identifying themselves that way. That is an abnormal statement, and therefore, a red flag.

Sometimes con artists will mess up by listing hobbies (if the online dating site has places to list them) that aren't normal for men, such as knitting, crafts, etc. In recent years, the con artists have figured out this can tip people off, so it happens less often now.

Women targeting men: Female con artists who target men can appear very enticing if they claim to be from another country - the more exotic, the better.

Unlike scammers who target women, these con artists will rarely claim to have children; it is not as attractive to male victims as it might be with female victims to connect with someone who has children. However, they will often be living with an elderly parent or other fragile relative. Again, this sets up the scenario for needing money.

Often, the 'young woman' will claim to be finishing her education, or to have a small business or otherwise sound industrious and somewhat educated.

As with the con artists targeting women, these scammers can frequently have well-written profiles rather than the broken language of a few years ago. But since they may already claim to live in another country, poor language isn't always a problem.

Many Internet scammers use fake profile photos and descriptions

Read online profiles carefully to look for hints that the person might be a con artist or predator.

Read online profiles carefully to look for hints that the person might be a con artist or predator.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Online scam artists capitalize on tugging at your heart and appearing normal in every way. A few years ago, they used to be easy to spot, because there usually wasn't a photo and the profile was often poorly written, in broken English. In recent years, this is no longer the case, which means potential victims are even more vulnerable than before.

The photo looks amazing: Many con artists who troll dating sites now use photos that are almost too good to be true, or look slightly 'off' for some reason.

Men targeting women: Con artists targeting women will often post model-perfect photos on the profile page. The guy looks like he could be in magazine ads; handsome, viral, posed just right - like a professional head shot for a portfolio, which it probably is, and the person in the photo likely doesn't know he's being used to con women. Naturally, there are indeed some handsome men out there looking for dates, but if you get a flirtatious message from a guy whose profile photo is beyond cute, don't rush in until you assess things a bit.

Another type of photo to beware of is one that just plain doesn't look 'right' for your culture. If you live in the United States and you get a message from some guy who just doesn't dress like guys do here (I saw one of a middle-aged man in white pedal pushers and a red-striped T-shirt, on a sailboat), check him out further before moving on.

Women targeting men: Often, the photos will be of incredibly sexy, young and beautiful. She thinks you're the man of her dreams, even if you're in your 50s, overweight and no longer Mr. Hunk material. The photos can be overly provocative (the con artist wants to get your attention), or sometimes look less suggestive, but very exotic.

Men who get online messages from much younger women should assess whether the goal is financial and whether conning could be the motive. Certainly, there are successful relationships with age differences in the couple, but the anonymity an online venue provides makes potential victims even less able to evaluate the situation than in person. And we all know that many people end up being conned in person, too.

Beware of invitations to communicate directly very early in the relationship

Online predators like to draw you away from web interaction and communicate through instant messages or the phone.

Online predators like to draw you away from web interaction and communicate through instant messages or the phone.

What about you?

Common ways dating scam artists behave

Since you probably are not the one who initiated contact (by clicking on the profile and sending a message), your first contact with them will likely be when the con artist send you a message wanting to meet you. Here are a few things to watch for:

They claim an instant attraction: If you get a message saying someone more or less fell for you the minute they read your profile, beware. They usually claim they read your great (sweet, caring, whatever) profile and that they saw how beautiful or cute you are look and they want to meet you, because you might be the one for them. Potential victims have been known to get messages saying they're beautifuor handsome when they haven't even posted a photo, and comments about being sweet and terrific when the text in their profile is practically empty.

Immediately asking you to instant message or email: This is a huge, huge red flag. If you get a message from someone you've never connected with before and they include their email and IM address, run fast. Anyone upstanding on a dating site will not push you into offline communication in their first message. Online scam artists almost always push for this right off the bat. The reasons are multiple:

  • Better control over the conversation, and over you; they can instantly adapt to your responses and needs
  • They work in shifts - this allows someone in their little business to 'talk' with you, 24/7
  • They know they will get kicked off the site soon; this gives them a short window of time to lure a victim into the direct communication crucial for their scams
  • Instant messages allow them to adapt their dialogue in ways that better entice the victim

The entire con job depends on being able to communicate with you directly, without going through the website. If you trade emails with them but you say you don't do Instant Messaging, they may even go as far as creating an account for you and send you the username and password.

Instant messaging works better than emailing for these tricksters because they can create an air of immediacy and urgency, and they can lure you back to the conversation quickly. Emails are a first step if you don't go for the request to IM, but those are more difficult scams for the con artists to manage, because they know you may read them right away, or hours or days later.

Phone contact: The con artist may or may not ask you to talk by phone. Some are quite good at pulling off the con job with no contact other than IM or email. This is especially important if they have a distinct accent that would tip you off that they aren't who they've represented themselves to be.

Laying the groundwork for the con: This will likely be a family emergency of some sort, such as the 'son' or 'elderly parent' needing surgery. It can also be an agreement to meet you in person, at your expense. These people have no conscience - this is their industry; they've honed their skills and they're good at it. Often, the con artist is very skilled at getting you to offer whatever they want; they don't even need to ask for it, you volunteer it.

Family crisis scams: At some point, often fairly early, they will begin setting the stage for an emergency that only you (and your money) can solve. They generally don't ask for money directly (although they can). Instead, they lay out a scenario that appeals to your sympathy. The son or elderly parent suddenly gets sick, and they send you messages with regular updates, clearly showing their anxiety. But the illness or the surgery they need isn't covered by insurance. Or the only place that can perform the surgery is in another city, and they don't have airfare to get there.

Note that these are quite often indirect strategies. They do not openly ask for money - they simply begin the sob story (carefully and slowly) to suck you in and get you to offer the help. You are presented with the opportunity, not the specific request, in many cases. If you fail to offer the help, they may get brazen enough to ask for it. But since they are actively pursuing other victims at the same time they're conning you, why waste time going that far?

Travel cons: Another ploy is to woo and entice you to meet in person, but of course, you need to buy the tickets. They then cash in the tickets and take the money. Some victims have even been conned a second or their time by claims that the tickets were stolen or had to be cashed in for an emergency. The con artist will keep draining the victim as long as possible. The groundwork for travel cons involves you sending them money to buy tickets (or sending the actual tickets) with a plan to meet somewhere else. Obviously, the con won't work if you travel to where they live (for one thing, they probably don't really live there), because there would be no need to send them money for a ticket. There will be some reason they can't meet you on their turf; they will agree to meet you somewhere else, but will not be able to afford the tickets for the trip.

Conning through business investments or purchases: Maybe their family business is in trouble - the elderly parent didn't pay taxes right before they died and your new love will lose the business. Or they've got a great business that will take their entire family out of poverty, if only they have (pick a dollar amount) for licenses, government approval, plumbing in the building or some other expense.

Scamming money for debts or repairs: Con artists can introduce sad stories about debts they need to pay before they can marry someone, or car repairs they need in order to visit you or keep their job. They will claim they can't leave the country until the debt is paid, or that they can't leave their sickly relative without paying for health equipment they need.

An online dating scam can quickly empty your wallet

True stories of dating con artists and scammers

There are numerous real and fictitious examples of con artists at their best. Here are a few real-life and fiction examples that show how scammers do their work:

Faking a Terminal Illness: Jessica Vega has been indicted for fraud and grand larceny and is accused of faking leukemia in order to get others to pay for an expensive wedding and honeymoon. The case hasn't been tried yet, but the type of behavior she is accused of is similar to cons used on Internet dating sites (the fake illness ploy).

Men also pose as women in order to con other men. The young Nigerian in this news story claims he conned at least 33 men out of millions of dollars.

Other instances have been reported as well, too numerous to catalog here. Older persons hoping for a relationship can be targeted by con artists who are much younger, such when A 69-year-old woman from the USA allegedly gave a 24-year-old man $221,000 toward funding an expense for the Olympic Games in London. The man, nearly three times younger than she is, was arrested in an investigation of money laundering.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels clip: Early on, it's clear Michael Caine's character has his victim begging him to let her give him money

Movies about romantic deception and con artists

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: This classic movie, staring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, was later made into a successful Broadway musical. Although the movie is a comedy, the techniques used by the two lead characters are typical of the 'conning through persuasion' strategies used by professional con artists. Both characters smoothly lie to their victims and set them up for their cons.

The clip here shows how Michael Caine's character has wooed various women to con them out of money, then, through Steve Martin's character pretending to be an out-of-control sibling, drives them away. This creates a situation where the victim ends the relationship because it cannot be sustained, which means the con artist gets by with it. Please excuse the overdone character Steve Martin plays here; no offense is intended by showing this clip.

Pillow Talk: This classic comedy features a handsome man (Rock Hudson) deceiving an attractive woman (Doris Day) in the name of romance. The movie was so popular that the two stars were paired in a subsequent film, Lover Come Back, with a new spin on the same basic theme. Films of this type suggest to audiences that con artists can redeem themselves and be worthy mates.

HouseSitter: In the name of gender equality, we need to mention at least one female con-artist in the film industry. Goldie Hawn portrays a deceiving and manipulating con-artist throughout the entire movie. Typical of comedies, though. the audience loves her, as does the lead actor, Steve Martin. And, of course, they live happily (if dishonestly) ever after.

Watch for indications they want you to sell something of value in order to provide them with money

What to do if you meet a con artist

If you're on a dating site and you meet someone you believe might be a con artist, the following steps will help protect you as well as others on the site:

  • Report the user and his or her profile to the site administrators. Part of their job is to protect you and other potential victims. Often, site administrators have ways to see if the individual is indeed a scammer and they will delete the person's profile.
  • Do NOT give this individual your email address, IM information or any other details that can personally identify you, such as your real name or where you work.
  • Block the person from contacting you on the site
  • Cease contact immediately, do not engage in messaging with them, and don't look back

If the person has already engaged in what could be criminal activity, gather all data on how to locate and identify them and report it to the proper authorities. Their Instant Message address, email account, phone number, skype address and other channels through which they've contacted you can help the right authorities track them down.

Final words: If you're on a dating site, go slowly. It probably took a lot of thought to join the site and put yourself "out there," so don't rush into anything when you start meeting someone. It can make people giddy with excitement to think there are people all over the world, just waiting to meet them.

Take time to learn about the individual the same way you would in person. Watch for the warning signs as well as the good signs, and don't be afraid to back away if red flags start appearing.

© 2010 by Marcy Goodfleisch, MA. Marcy has researched and taught university-level courses about ethics, sociopathic behaviors and other subjects. This article was originally researched in 2008, written in 2010 and subsequently published on this site.

Questions & Answers

Question: What about people who claim that they're in the military, are they trustworthy?

Answer: This one can be tricky - obviously, some legitimate military members are looking for romance. Check the rank on the uniform (you can search online to match it), and ask them what rank they are. Ask them what they do for the military. Search to see if their image matches someone else. If their writing sounds fake, it probably is a scammer. I was once contacted by a guy with four stars (all 4-star generals are listed online), and he claimed to be a surgeon. I played dumb and asked what his rank was, and he said he was the "Surgeon General." Uh, not quite. I found the image of the real person and informed them, and Facebook eventually deleted the guy.

© 2012 Marcy Goodfleisch


Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on June 16, 2015:

Thanks, David - hope this helps people avoid the traps!

david on June 16, 2015:

Nice to see the update here for online dating.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on December 22, 2014:

This is true, ScamPolice - and the same goes for male profiles. You're right that some sites create fictitious profiles just to attract victims. They'll use stock photos (or photos of someone who doesn't know their image is being used) and then create artificial lives. It's beyond evil for people to con their victims romantically as well as financially.

Thanks for reading the hub, and for your comment!

ScamPolice from Vermont on December 22, 2014:

A large number of female profile on dating sites are fake. Especially on smaller, less known sites. These website owners will often "make up" people that are very attractive so their site doesn't look empty.

Jay c on May 15, 2014:

I really don't know if it real she keeps asking for more pictures is that bad I don't know. It feels to good to be true

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on April 08, 2014:

So sorry if I've busted you, da real scammer. Guess you'll have to find another way to earn money. Here's a tip, while you're spinning your wheels, look up the words Honesty, Integrity, Truth, Sincerity, and all related synonyms. Maybe they'll lead to a new career path.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping your post was in jest . . .

de real scammer on April 03, 2014:

marcy why are you doing this to us .this is what we do to meet ends meet and you are here broadcasting it for americans to see how foolish and dumb they are

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on January 31, 2014:

Thanks so much for reading & commenting, SandCastles!

SandCastles on January 31, 2014:

Good Hub!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 24, 2013:

Many thanks, Ologsinquito! I appreciate your kind words - so glad you enjoyed the hub!

ologsinquito from USA on November 23, 2013:

Great job, this certainly deserved to be HOTD. I enjoy reading your articles.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 22, 2013:

Hi, Renee - Depending on where you live, there are indeed laws about stalking. Do an Internet search for information on the definition in your state or country. You can start making regular complaints (with specific details), to develop the trail of evidence. You might also contact a center for abused women to see what channels they're aware of. They may not be able to help you directly (unless you're in immediate danger), but they should know applicable laws and resources. Some things are not legally considered stalking, but some are.

Best of luck - I hope you find some local sources for help.

Renee on November 21, 2013:

Does anyone have advice or contact information for an agency that will ACTUALLY do something about a con man that I fell for 3 years ago?

Only dated 8 months, but he STILL is harassing, stalking & stealing from me!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 21, 2013:

Oh, Pipercat, I am so sorry. I was also the victim of marriage fraud, and it's a devastating experience. In every way. You're in my prayers. The only options that come to mind are perhaps the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), or perhaps help from a high-profile internship group at a major university. Seriously, I'd contact the top tier law professors - some might love taking on this issue. That's how some death row cases have been overturned.

Have you considered contacting 2020 or 60 Minutes? I guarantee that the government in NZ would not want the negative publicity.

Best of luck - and let us know what happens. Take care of yourself, and don't hesitate to get some helpful counseling if it's available.

pipercat on November 20, 2013:

I'm going through this now but it's worst...it's marriage fraud and he had me move to new zealand... tampered with my paperwork and when i came back to canada for a short while found out that i couldn't go back.... everything i own is there and he's laughing all the way to the bank. he took all my money and belongings as i moved a container to new zealand. since he works for the justice department, he's be getting all kinds of unethical help from co-workers and the like. my life is ruined, i'm now living with my mom, i can't even get a lawyer as i have no money and i can't get help from canada.. the sad thing is the governments are both so ignorant there are no rules/agreements between the 2 commonwealth countries and i imagine more...i can't even get help from the police because we are married.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 20, 2013:

@BillyBuc - thanks, Dear Friend, for reading and for your kind comments! So glad you liked the hub.

@mythbuster - I agree, the plethora of those sites is frightening. It's even more scary when you realize there are some entire cultures that have decided they're good places to scam people. If you send money overseas, you will likely never get it back, even through legal channels, because there are few ways to track it after it's left the USA. Some sites even use religion to 'sell' their services by implying people will find the mate God picked for them.

@LoveDoctor - Many thanks for your kind remarks! I should check out your hubs; it sounds like you touch on similar topics!

@Hui - I'm so glad you recognized there were dangers (or issues with honesty) and backed away from unfortunate situations. It takes a lot of strength to say 'no' to something that seems to offer all you've ever wanted in life (but that has red flags).

@ChitragadaSharan - Thanks for reading, and for your comments! Yes, vigilant is a good word for it. Almost every week, we read about online scams of some sort, and our hearts are not immune to those scams.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 19, 2013:

Congratulations Marcy Goodfleisch, for a well deserved HOTD, for a very well written article!

It is an eye opener for people interested in Online dating. While there are countless advantages of the Internet, it requires us to remain a little cautious and vigilant as well.

Well done and voted up!

Hui (蕙) on November 19, 2013:

A hot social issue in common life, and you make it as a great hub in details. I believe that not few people can benefit from these knowledgeable information. I am totally against online dating, by the way. I used to have such chances and almost made it upon those impractical ideas from some romantic movies, but I blew them off at the last minute I pulled myself back to reality.

LoveDoctor on November 19, 2013:

Look beyond the photo before you take the bait. This is so true. Looks can be deceiving. Excellent hub. You couldn't have said it better.

mythbuster from Utopia, Oz, You Decide on November 19, 2013:

Great article and thorough warnings, etc but there are oh, so many date sites online now! I see television commercials advertising date sites online as the "new revolutionary way" to select a LIFE PARTNER... I'm not sure some of our technology is even good for us anymore. Building cyber dating relationships over face to face interaction - I know it's just the way things are going, so I'm glad this article has been written to point out the numerous dangers of online dating scams. Thanks for sharing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 19, 2013:

Congratulations on the HOTD...well-deserved, Marcy!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 19, 2013:

@CyclingFitness - I had not heard of sites paying people to submit profiles (I am not surprised, though). I do think there are sites that look for 'marketable' people for various demographics, such as good-looking guys to attract women, or vice versa. Just another reason to avoid these sites, I think.

@Randy Godwin - Thanks so much for reading and commenting! You can call me Mary anytime you want to. Snakes count with me, and you're one of my favorites! I love your writing.

@John Sarkis - Hi, John - I appreciate your votes and the share! Thanks for dropping by and reading!

@Cherry - You are indeed fortunate to have met someone worthy. I've seen the sick kid tricks, the 'widowed' guys who claim to have one son (always eight-years-old, I noticed), and I know of men who were scammed by women with sickly grandparents. They're absolute masters at it, and they know how to build the scam slowly rather than jumping in and making it obvious. Thanks for your comments here.

Cherry on November 19, 2013:

Well I was into online dating 10 years ago and these are all the same red flags that were going on at that time. Wanting to instant chat with you especially on yahoo, having dead parents, or a deceased child. Seems nothing now had changed either. So glad I met my husband.

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on November 19, 2013:

Marcy, very nice hub. Congrats! Voted up and sharing!

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on November 19, 2013:

A very thorough article which deserves to be HOTD! I'm very pleased this hub has been chosen as such. Congrats Mary.....er....I mean Marcy.:P


Liam Hallam from Nottingham UK on November 19, 2013:

One of the biggest cons I've found of online dating involves sites like Match.com- There are sites that offer payment for you to put a profile up on there which leads you to thinking- How many of the profiles are actually real as these scams make the sites seem more popular than they actually are in reality.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 19, 2013:

Thanks so much for your comments, Paradigmsearch, and for sharing the hub! I am honored it was selected for HOTD; there are so many great hubs on this site!

Bobbi - I need to read your hub - it sounds like it covers some information mine doesn't address. I like the idea of background checks. I am not sure how a site could verify the right person was being researched (maybe they should get the NSA involved? Just kidding!). I joined a few church sites, and there was no way to guarantee people were actually members of the church, so there were some really bad apples on it.

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on November 19, 2013:

Hi Marcy,

This is very informative for the ones who do date online. I have done hours of research about online dating sites as I did a hub on it. And, I also warned to never join a site that did not do background checks on the members and verify their information. And, I would even desire Drug Screening for the local sites.

However, you have gone even further about the scams and the creeping evil fungi bottom-feeders who prey on trusting women and men. This is great and I hope the ones who are looking online read this and keep this information to judge their online use and can learn to read between the lines.

Thanks for this hub and have a wonderful week.

Bobbi Purvis

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 19, 2013:

Hi, Sunshine! Thanks for reading the hub, and for your kind words! I'm sort of in the 'banned the sites for life' mode right now, but I have indeed met good friends of both genders on the sites I've visited. Mixed feelings, I guess?

@ Suzettenaples - As many others have said, there are some success stories on those sites. I think it's like driving a car; you have to know the road you're on, and recognize the dark alleys if you see one. Hope this information is helpful, if you do try the sites!

@ Purpose Embraced - Thanks so much for your comments, and for passing along the information! Those who are in the dating mode do need to know what to avoid.

@ KoraleeP - Oh yes, I have started getting those odd FB messages, too! I don't know how they find us there. I do know that some people have fallen for people on the dating sites, and also on Facebook. How I wish there were a way to ban them from the entire Internet. Thanks for your comments!

x on November 19, 2013:

Congrats on the Hub of the Day! And this article will save a lot of people a lot of problems. In fact, I've even shared it.

Koralee Phillips from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on November 19, 2013:

I recognize those messages you talked about at the beginning of your Hub. I'm not on a dating site, but sometimes I get random messages like that on Facebook, in my "other messages" section.

Great tips and warnings for online dating sites and what to watch out for.

Yvette Stupart PhD from Jamaica on November 19, 2013:

This is a great hub. It is well written with a lot of relevant information. I am not in the dating game, but will surely pass it on to others who will find it useful. Thanks for sharing an excellent hub.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on November 19, 2013:

Marcy: Congratulations on HOTD. I enjoyed reading this and you give some excellent advice and tips for the lovelorn. I have been hesitant to use any of these dating web-sites. I know there have been some successes, but to weed out all the jerks takes so much time and effort. You have covered it all in the scam department.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on November 19, 2013:

Excellent advice and tips Marcy! I have a few friends who used online dating. Some are happily married, some have banned the sites from their lives. I hope I never need to use them. Congrats on the HOTD!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 15, 2013:

Hi, Patrick - I'm not sure if you mean you're shocked at her knowing your name, or that there was a response that met your request. If the picture includes a woman, and if she's part of a scamming operation, what probably happened was that whomever rubs the scam has women he can use for photo ops. If you had not revealed your name, that would indeed be creepy. It's possible she (or they) could have gotten your name from a social site or picked it together somehow from other information. If you're on IM, I have heard (but not verified) that people can hack into your computer that way. I'm not sure that's the case (we would hear people screaming about it), but since hackers can even install webcam software and operate it remotely, just about anything can happen.

If you feel these are scammers, get as much of their information as possible and report them to every possible agency.

Patrick on November 14, 2013:

I have a situation she is a beautiful woman from Ghana. I am sure she is scammer but was shocked today I asked to write my name on a large piece of paper and send me a picture and she did it. Any thoughts?

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on October 05, 2013:

Well, it sure walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. I think you dodged a bullet, Roniti - glad you spotted his true colors. Yikes!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on October 05, 2013:

Thanks, Oldiesmusic - the con artists who do it regularly are pros at it. They learn new techniques each time they con someone, so their energy is spent in perfecting their lies. I'm glad you found useful information here, and I hope you never meet one of these creeps in person.

Ronit Zemach on October 05, 2013:

I almost fell into the trap of honey by email .... amazing ... until he fell in love .. this by email

Hello Roniti..

Thanks for answering my calls.. I missed you so much.. when we were talking.. mine colleague was with me.. I don’t want them to listen to our little financial issue.. Roniti, why I called you I was having some little issue, Because my Business visa, has expired, that was the reason why I called you.. But it wasn’t something I needed to share with you.. Roniti, I need some few token of your helped.. Because I don’t know who I can share my issue with.. Sorry about yesterday.. I didn’t gota the chance to write because of the issued that was tabled.. Kindly give me your urgent response.. Love you..

Have a Blessed evening.. Love always.. Moses------------

Am I right .???????

oldiesmusic from United States on October 03, 2013:

Jesus Christ! After I read this hub and the stories of the commentors... it's really unbelievable, they have the "face" to do that kind of scam. And some of them cite that they work and travel in Africa. Now I know their style. Thanks for your warnings. I sometimes chat with a lot of guys, flirt with them, but there's nothing serious so far. Now I have to be cautious. Thanks! Up and shared :)

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on July 13, 2013:

Thanks for those insights, Alexander! I like your move of letting them know you're onto the Ghana thing. I have also seen people who claim to not drink or smoke, and their pictures show otherwise. I guess the scammers don't filter their material very well?

Alexander Maximilian on July 13, 2013:

One more funny thing. I noticed some irregularities such as they say "I never drink alcohol" and in a profile pic they have a glass of wine. Too funny, sometimes if I'm bored I'll thoroughly waste their time, and lead them on. Ha ha ha.

Alexander Maximilian on July 13, 2013:

I have become quite adept at knowing who they are. I have actually put in my profile info "If you are from Ghana, I am not your fool! Do not waste my time, nor yours." And when I get IM's they are not slow to state they're in Ghana, and then I say "I know about Ghana, Goodbye" But I report the false profile before hand.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on July 13, 2013:

Oh, gosh - yes, that has all the earmarks of the scammers. They are always temporarily working in another country, and usually it's Africa. The reason they reveal that right away is so it won't come as a surprise when there's an 'emergency' and they need money. Or when their fake son, mother, grandparent (whatever) needs an operation. Or when they claim they need money for a ticket to come and see you.

His claim of only recently moving to your area is so there won't be a way to check him out locally. These people are beyond dishonest - really awful. If there's some way to get his IP info or whatever, you could perhaps report him to federal agencies. Be sure to report him to the dating site and get him banned.

Run like heck. And do not IM with anyone like that. I've heard they can hack into computers from that, but I'm not sure. As for the flowery poems, I'm sure he's sent those to many women. It's sickening.

GMD on July 12, 2013:

I think I am being scammed from someone who I met on a local dating site. Said he lived about 30 minutes away., however he is in "AFRICA" for 1 month drilling wells. He also wants to chat on yahoo messenger. He hasn't asked for money yet. But he has started the flowery/romantic/poems. I almost want to toy with him but it wouldn't be fair to him. His answers are very vague and says he just recently moved to my area from Washington only 2 months before he left for AFRICA. So does't really answer questions I ask him about that area. Anyhow. Thought I would share. I will say he is charming BUT WILL NOT waste my time messaging him anymore.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on July 05, 2013:

Hi, Marion - I sure relate to what your mom is experiencing. There are some organized scam operations on most dating sites, and they're getting better every year at sounding normal and honest. I'll send up some prayers for your mother to spot the bad apples and to find the jewels who are out there. Thanks for your comments!

marion langley from The Study on July 05, 2013:

I love how you approached this from both sides to equip and protect as many people as possible. Vote up! My Mom just entered the dating field after being divorced from her 25 year marriage and she's been complaining a lot about scams she's running into. From what she hears from friends, who were scammed with rebound marriages, she's also going to insist on a prenup if she marries again. Scary online dating world out there. Hope I can keep my marriage together so I don't find myself in it. thanks for writing.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 30, 2013:

Holy Cow! Tattuwrun - you came so close to getting scammed! Thank you, so much, for posting this first-person account of how these guys operate. This is exactly the type of con artist this article discusses, and having a 'real life' example is so helpful. I'm so, so glad you recognized what was going on before it hurt you - either financially or emotionally. Good for you!!!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 20, 2013:

Hi, AmandaJon - it's great to hear a success story! Naturally, many of us know of happy couples who met online and later married. It's the con artists who make things difficult for people, though, which is what is being addressed here. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

Amanda Jones on May 20, 2013:

Great hub, very useful tips! This is so sad that people manipulate other people's emotions to get money from them, this is outrageous!

One should olways be aware of risks he can run into.

But I have met my husband online 5 years ago, we still together and very happy. So for joining a dating site was one othe the best decisions in my life.

Don't let those con artist stop you from finding a date online, be careful and keep looking, Good luck!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on February 09, 2013:

Wow - thanks for sharing this real-life experience - and good job in spotting the signs before you got defrauded. How I wish these people would be caught and prosecuted.

SerenaRudd on February 09, 2013:

I have just become a victim of this, however, i realise that things weren't right when he claimed his 6 year old son had been hit by a motorcycle and was in hospital with injuries he couldn't pay for. I strung him along for the rest of the time. Even told him i was on the next flight with money to help. Eventually, i fronted him about it and first he denied it, then admitted it. I was actually trying to get details from him about who the guy he was posing as, who the pictures were of, have tried various sites to reverse search the pics myself and cannot find him, only one site in oregon might have one pic. Lessons learnt, this site is very accurate. He was a man with a business working abroad, with a 6 year old son, claiming to live in London, when he was running everything from Nigeria.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 16, 2012:

Hi, Dancingpopes - thanks for your very informative comment here. I think many women (and some men) would like a place where they could 'blacklist' the bad apples. It's very true that being scammed out of your emotions is a painful experience - and it takes a long time to recover. If we could figure out what makes some people approach relationships with dishonestly, we would get rich!

Dancingpopes on November 15, 2012:

Hi Marcy,

Great site! I wish a site could be created listing the names of men and women from these sites like POF and MATCH who claim they want a relationship and tell you how great you are, etc, but JUST want sex, or tell you how great you are, meet you, and pretend to like you because they think you have money, only to find out you don't and suddenly they're gone.

That would border on slander, I'm sure, and some people would list names out of spite, but wouldn't it be great in a perfect world if there could be a list of these people to check.

Not a DEFINITELY SCAMMERS list, but just a BE VERY CAUTIOUS if you talk with these people list.

Sad, isn't it, how we women 40+ want to believe a guy. I've never been scammed out of money, I've been scammed of my feelings.

Really, if a guy just wants sex, why can't he just ASK for it so we know AHEAD of time that its just going to be physical adult fun.

Why must they go through the bulls--- of telling you how wonderful you are, what great chemistry you have, and what a great team you'd make?

Ah well. I've got a few names I'd love to start the list with.

These 2 I don't believe are BAD men, but any woman that deals with them needs to use CAUTION so that they don't get their feelings hurt--because that REALLY lowers a woman's self esteem.

I won't name them, but ladies just BE CAUTIOUS of VERY good looking 40-42 year old men from Boston, Vermont, and Enfield, CT.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on October 27, 2012:

I'm so sorry you went through that, Jan - I know of others who have been conned, and it hurts on so many levels. How I wish there were easier ways to spot these jerks.

Jan on October 27, 2012:

Good information, I wish I had read this before I gave my money to a con artist. He had my heart now I'm hurt and not trusting. He talked to me for hours months m Im and phone lie after lie protect yourself. I no longer will use dating sites.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on October 24, 2012:

Hi, Graham - thanks for your kind words of support! It's very sad to see the increasing instances of dating scams every year. Many of them are cottage industries in Third-World countries where groups of people troll websites (dating or otherwise) and send enticing messages. I guess the odds work in their favor, when they generate thousands of contacts but finally get big money when they pull someone into their net.

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on October 24, 2012:

Hi Marcy. Congratulations on this wonderful hub. It is so informative and helpful. I don't need the services of these websites but a person who might, would do so well to read and absorb your efforts.

Voted up and all.


Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on October 17, 2012:

Hi, HubbinNubbin - I don't personally have info on foreign sites - but I do know there are plenty of scammers who use sites based in the US but they live in other countries. This might be a good topic for either the Answers section on this site, or the Forum. Good luck - and be careful!

Jessica Weyland from Madison on October 17, 2012:

Hello there,

I am currently working outside the USA in Germany and I have started using some of the German Online Dating Sites. As my German is still much desired for, it has been a long journey for me to decide what is real and what is not. I was wondering if you guys have any tips in recognizing foreign online dating page scams? Like the technicalities, without having to know the language well? Example of one of the pages I have found: http://www.friends-online.de/

It looks pretty trustworthy to me, what do you guys think?

I am just starting out as a blogger by the way, if you guys have any tips or advice, contact me - I am always looking for new friends :)

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on September 28, 2012:

Hi, Becky - that's a really great question - the only thing I can figure is that they find photos online, or scan good-quality magazine shots and use those. I've seen photos that were definitely part of a male model's portfolio. They will stoop to anything to get someone's attention and hook them in.

Becky on September 28, 2012:

where do these scammers get the pictures that they post on their profile. i know its not them. are they pictures of deceased people?

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 23, 2012:

Hi, Stephen - that is so true; those sites are money-makers. Now I am hearing of people trying to scam others on this site by contacting them personally about relationships or money. And, I just got a message from a stranger on LinkedIn that sounded all too fishy.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

StephenCowry on May 22, 2012:

Dating sites are actually all over the net. Individuals must not be too desperate to find a date. Tips mentioned in your hub are a great help! Thanks for sharing it for everyone's benefit.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 16, 2012:

I agree, MsKrysma - the hurts from these predators last for years. It is the worst form of deception. Thanks so much for reading and commenting - I look forward to your hubs!

MsKrysma on May 16, 2012:

It's sad and very wrong for con artists to hurt others who are just looking for love. I hope people recongnize the signs that someone is not right for them beofre they do get hurt.

Angela Blair from Central Texas on May 14, 2012:

All's good here, sweet Marcy -- and we totally agree -- the con artists are not only another breed they're downright scary. Best/Sis

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 14, 2012:

Hi, Sis - it's good to see you! Thanks for reading and commenting here. I've been on a few sites, too, which is how I was able to research this hub. There are indeed people of both genders looking for money and a caretaker (they generally want marriage, in order to get the caretaker benefits). The con artists are yet another breed - they're only out to scam people, right from the start. Either way, it's discouraging to sift through all that in the hopes of finding the diamond amongst the lumps of coal.

Thanks for reading and commenting! Hope all is well with you!

Angela Blair from Central Texas on May 14, 2012:

Great work and research,Marcy. I tried a couple of dating sites years ago just for fun. Found there's a lot of guys looking for women my age -- they need a nurse or a purse and I wasn't available for either. Definitely voted up -- Best/Sis

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 12, 2012:

Hi, Alocsin - what a great tip about identifying photos! You always have the best information about the ins and outs of Internet use - thanks for sharing this!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on May 12, 2012:

I think in matters of the heart, people aren't so wary as they should be. These tips should be very helpful. As for the fake photo, if you drag a photo from a website into Google Images, it'll will show you where the photo is from. Voting this Up and Useful.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 10, 2012:

Thanks so much for your comment here, adjkp - I'm glad you never had to be exposed to this type of thing. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

David from Idaho on May 10, 2012:

I'm so thankful that I met my wife young and didn't go the online dating route. I have heard about people falsifying their profiles but, after reading this, there is so much more for people to be aware of.

Voted up and useful.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 10, 2012:

Thanks for your comment here, Margie - and I am so sorry your girlfriend has run into those issues. It is disheartening to see what happens in the name of dating. Thanks for reading and sharing!

Mmargie1966 from Gainesville, GA on May 10, 2012:

I'm so glad I'm not dating anymore. However, I have a ton of girlfriends who are. One in particular has gotten herself into some deep trouble - TWICE! One was a physical threat and the other stole her money.

Thank you for writing this, Marcy! I will definitely share it...and voted up!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 10, 2012:

Hi, Allie - it's so sad to hear of the people who've been hurt through these dishonest schemers. I know there are decent people on those sites, too, but people need to be aware of the not-so-good users as well.

Many thanks for your thoughts on this!

alliemacb from Scotland on May 10, 2012:

I'm glad you've put this information together. Like others who have commented, I have heard so many horror stories about this. The unfortunate thing about online dating is that people can represent themselves in any way they choose so you really don't know for sure what you're getting with these. Voted up and useful.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 09, 2012:

Oooh - that is creepy, to get contacted on this site. I had an odd message early on from someone asking me for personal help, but not the 'Hi, you're cute' stuff. I hope you reported this to the moderators? The person probably contacted several Hubbers. These con artists hit up anywhere they can get messages to people.

Thanks for sharing this - and for commenting here!

Nell Rose from England on May 09, 2012:

Hi, its funny that you should mention the 'divorced with a son' thing. I actually received an email the other day from a new 'hubbber' he hasn't written anything yet, who said, 'I think you are cute, can you email me? I am divorced with a son and so on! I felt like writing back and saying, this isn't a dating site, but I didn't want him to know my email. I would never trust these sites, I have heard to many horror stories. I have watched programs on tv about women who give out thousands of pounds so that the guy can come over to the uk, or meet them abroad, and they never find them again after losing all that money. I feel like shaking them for their stupidity! but then I feel sorry for them for their loneliness and desperation.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 09, 2012:

Hi, Kittyjj - I truly hope you never need these, too! And I hope, if they need them, the information here helps your friends avoid these con artists!

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Ann Leung from San Jose, California on May 09, 2012:

Excellent tips on online dating. Hopefull I won't be needing it though. But I am happy to share them with my friends who I think might be interested.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 09, 2012:

Hi, drbj - I'm so glad you like the hub (and the movie - which I love, by the way!). Thanks for your comments!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 09, 2012:

Wow - what a story, Aviannovice! You should write about that experience - I'm so glad you gave that example here. The con artists are experts; they know what will work (how to get the money), and will quickly move on if they can't get cooperation. I met one woman who paid a guy's way to the USA, with the plan they would marry. He didn't even had standing in the church. The emotional recovery is so traumatic for people who have been conned. And then of course they've been damaged financially, too.

Thank you for sharing this! You are so smart to have figured it out before you were taken advantage of.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 09, 2012:

Hi, SandraBusby - I appreciate you kind comments; so glad you like the hub!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on May 09, 2012:

Very realistic cautions, Marcy, for those who wish to utilize online dating sites. Thanks for the 'Scoundrels' clip - I had forgotten how funny that movie really was.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on May 09, 2012:

The profiles are good, because they belonged to someone else that got turned off by the dating site because there was a scammer. The scammer already had their info, so voila! I ran into a couple of those losers. One dumb enough to send "form" letters with all the misspellings, and one that forgot who he was and sent the same letter under another name. They are generally tied to western Africa, like Ghana or Nigeria. Mine claimed to be half Cuban and half Nigerian, living in CA. By the way, they didn't get a nickel from me, though the attempt was made. Claimed mom was in the hospital in Nigeria and the US check wouldn't be accepted as it had to clear. I knew what was going to happen and I offered my Visa, but the hospital had to contact me. I was flatly refused and told it had to be Western Union or nothing. So I said, okay,nothing it is. And that was the end of that.

Sandra Busby from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA on May 09, 2012:

Great hub. Thanks for all your research, a quality I have come to expect and enjoy in your hubs.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 09, 2012:

Hi, Karthikkash - I did some research on this a few years ago, and the scams were really easy to spot. Now, that's not the case. They've gotten expert at writing good profiles and they know photos are important. So people need to scrutinize the package, and then watch behaviors carefully. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 09, 2012:

Hi, Prasetio - your friend is right to alert you to the risks. There are some great and worthy people on the sites, but since those sites are one of the main venues for predators, it's important to take care. Thanks for commenting here!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 09, 2012:

Actually I really interested with online dating, but my friend said that I must be careful with kind of dating site. There are many scams out there. I started with free online dating site,but it's more bad. Though we can find legitimate company which provide truly information for the member of their site. Thanks for share with us. Marcy, I learn many things here. Rated up and useful!


Karthik Kashyap from India on May 08, 2012:

great work Marcy. I've been on dating sites on and off and thought I was decent enough in spotting scamsters. But this hub made me think twice. Definitely made me be more careful on dating sites. Thanks a lot :) Voted up and bookmarked.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 08, 2012:

Hi, fpherj - thanks for your thoughtful and passionate comment here! I hope you caution your friends and loved ones to take care of themselves. So many people are too trusting, and that's what the con artists bank on happening.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on May 08, 2012:

Hi, Homesteadbound - yes, it is truly heartbreaking that people use dating to con their victims. It has been around for centuries, but the Internet has made it far too easy to find victims and pull it off.

Thanks for reading and commenting - I think this will continue to be a problem, unfortunately!

Suzie from Carson City on May 08, 2012:

Marcy...Dating sites have become HUGE business (profit). They're advertised everywhere and have expanded to particular "groups" eg. "Christian Mingle.com" etc.

From Day one of their inception, when they were in the personal ads of the local newpaper w/ a P.O. Box to respond to...(yeah, that's a brilliant idea) I have never failed to feel the goosebumps up & down my spine...& not in a GOOD way!

They don't call me "Miss-Jaded-suspicious-untrusting-cynical-use-the-polygraph-Paula, without good reason.

I'm well aware thousands of people shop online for their friends, dates and lovers. I even personally KNOW several couples who found their "soul mate" this way. Oh barf.

Sometimes we get lucky. Wonderful. Throw the rice, wish them luck and watch them ride off into the sunset.

This hub is excellent and it's all valuable info for cyber-daters to be aware of. Some of the sad but true horror stories that have been the result of far too many of these "arrangements" should be warning enough for anyone.

But, as we humans continue to remain true to nature..."This would NEVER happen to me."

Here's my take....the unsolicited advice I love to give single women: "IF you're too busy with work and activities and responsibilities, to have the time to MEET eligible men AND IF you believe that the ones you are meeting and/or dating are losers, creeps & perverts...

What on earth makes you think you'll have the TIME to develop a relationship with Mr.Stud Muffin, once you meet him...and that he wouldn't be a loser-creep-pervert all rolled into one guy named, "Lumpy?"

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on May 08, 2012:

Wow! So much to think about and consider ... Dating is tough enough without having to worry about all of this stuff and getting scammed. It is so sad we live in a world where trust has pretty well gone out the window!

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