These scams are not uncommon and befall many individuals who use online dating sites and apps to make connections.

Under the guise of romance, fraudsters will find ways to ask for your money.


Here are some of the common ways they trick their victims into losing thousands of dollars, and what you can do to avoid becoming the next victim.


Catfishing is a popular term for creating a fake profile and using it to lure someone into a relationship. Typically, in doing this, they are targeting a specific victim. They might connect with you through social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, or even websites like

The scammer will build a relationship with their victim to gain their trust, then eventually make up a convincing story for why they need your money.

Patterns to watch out for

There are usually patterns you can identify in scammer behavior and background stories. Some of which will look like this:

  • They may work on an oil rig or other remote location.

  • They’re away in the military.

  • They are a doctor that is a part of an international organization.

Essentially, there is a reason why they will not be able to meet you for a very long time. They often need money for items like the following:

  • Pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses.

  • Pay for surgery or other medical expenses.

  • Pay customs fees to retrieve something.

  • Pay off gambling debts.

  • Pay for a visa or other official travel documents.

The request can sometimes be very convincing, especially when they will tell you they are using the money to finally meet you.

The following is a red flag that even Cupid should be able to spot: When they ask for you to send the money one of these ways:

  • Wiring money

  • Western Union/Money gram

  • Postal Money Orders

  • Reloadable cards like MoneyPak

  • Gift cards from vendors like Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, or Steam

  • Pre-Paid Credit Cards

Why do they ask you to send money this way? It Is very difficult to track and cancel payments through these methods, making it the perfect con strategy.


A few other signs to look out for when avoiding a “not-so-sweetheart”:

  • They will try to move the conversation off of the dating site immediately, using personal email, text, or phone.

  • They will ask you to wire money using Western Union or Money Gram.

  • They will try to convince you to set up a new bank account.

Unfortunately, online dating scams are all too common. There may be tens of thousands of victims, but only a small fraction report it to the FTC or Law Enforcement because of shame or embarrassment. If this happens to you, please report it at — click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams or your local law enforcement agency. You may be able to help yourself and protect others.