You’re on social media, and suddenly a friend request or private message appears from someone you don’t know.
The profile picture is likely of someone in a military uniform, and you’re intrigued.
After accepting the request or responding to the message, you’re suddenly overwhelmed by this person who is quick with praise and compliments.
It may only take a matter of days before he first professes his love for you.
This is how a classic scam begins.
It could be on social media or even through a dating site or app.
If the number of messages I’m receiving about scams indicates the volume of them, it is in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.
One study showed that American and Canadian citizens lost more than $1 billion in scams in the last three years.
And the scary part of that statistic is it only includes what was reported to the authorities.
While this site focuses on military dating scams, most dating scams are similar.
The military spin to it can make it easier for the scammer to pull off as they can use a deployment to another country as an excuse for long periods before meeting face to face.
It also provides excuses for why other forms of communication (video or phone) are not possible.
Let’s cover the basics of the stages of the scam itself.
Not every fraud will have all of these characteristics, but most will hit a few of these stages, at the very least.
There’s No Discrimination – Love For All
The scammer could be male or female, straight or gay, young or old.
They may be impersonating a high-ranking officer or a lower-ranking enlisted soldier.
Any race, any body type.
Their only concern is about money, and they will play any role necessary to make that happen.
Note: I generally use “he” in referring to the scammer, but it’s just to avoid a constant stream of “he or she” each time I mention the scammer or the victim.
Fall in Love Quickly
You could be in the very beginnings of establishing basic interactions with the person when he proclaims his love for you.
This is always a red flag.
One of my friends had a scammer reach out to her through Facebook messenger.
I had her play along for the firsthand knowledge of exactly how the scam would play out and coached her along the way for what to say next.
It took exactly three days before he said he was in love and was proposing marriage!
While this tends to be the case more often than not, some scammers will continue the relationship for months before asking for anything in return.
This has gradually improved over the years as the scams become more sophisticated, but generally, you’ll get a sense that English isn’t their first language.
It could be the words or the sentence structure, but it just doesn’t seem right.
This can become more of an issue when the victim’s first language isn’t English either.
All too often, because of that, they will miss this critical warning sign.
More and more, I’m receiving emails from victims who are overseas, and the scammer is claiming to be an American.
Sob Story of Magnificent Proportions
If all of their stories are true, these “poor” scammers have had a rough life.
They often tell stories about being orphans, being divorced or widowed, raising children on their own who are in boarding school while deployed.
Or they may go so far as having a family member with medical issues that needs immediate attention (and your money!).
There have been a handful of cases where the scammer went for the ultimate guilt trip and combined versions of all of these scenarios into one life story.
The purpose of this is to make you feel sorry for them.
Once they have your sympathy, how could you possibly add to the misery that has been their life by turning down their request?
First Request – Small Gift
When someone emails me about a potential scammer (and just for the record, there hasn’t been one where it turned out he wasn’t a scammer!), one of the first questions I’ll ask is if he has asked for money.
If the scammer has made it to the part of the scam where he is requesting items or money, I would say about 50% of the time, he will ask for a small item first.
The most popular item to request is an iTunes gift card.
This can quickly be sold for cash, and once you’ve delivered it, there’s no way to get the money back.
It’s also virtually untraceable.
Also, it moves the scam to the next level as you’ve now established that you will provide things of monetary value, no matter how small.
The Bigger Ask
Next, it will be the bigger ask.
Some of the scammers go directly for the big one at this point, while others may continue to work their way up in dollar amounts.
These scams range from asking you to apply for their leave (which seems innocent at first) to telling you they are sending a check for a large sum of money because their account is locked.
Sometimes this may be a couple of hundred dollars for processing leave forms, and sometimes it can be in the thousands for their trip back home.
In some cases, he may even tell you he’s returning home so you can be married.
Soon, you will begin to get that gnawing feeling in your gut that tells you something isn’t right.
Hopefully, this happens before you send any money, though I find that’s usually not the case.
You decide to confront him, only to be met by him acting in one of four ways: (1) anger, (2) sadness, (3) feeling of betrayal, or (4) abandonment.
Unless you’re confronting him for the umpteenth time and have never given him anything of monetary value, the fourth of those options is unlikely to happen.
He will give up and move on to an easier victim at some point, but it generally will not happen the first time you confront him.
This is where many victims get confused. They begin to doubt their gut.
They will often tell me in emails that they asked if he was a scammer, and he got agitated that after everything they have shared, she could think that of him.
Always, always, always trust your gut.
Admitting the Scam
This happens in a tiny percentage of cases, but sometimes when confronted, the scammer will admit it was a scam.
The story then changes to be that although it started as a scam, he has truly fallen in love with you.
If you maintain the connection with them, the entire process starts again.
Because they’ve admitted the scam to you at that point, your guard is generally down, and it’s that much easier to take advantage of you.
As the scammer sees less and less of a chance to turn the “relationship” into a monetary gain for himself, he may begin threatening you.
This generally happens when the victim refuses to send any money as she has figured out it’s a scam.
The threats can be much more vicious if the victim has sent money before and is now suddenly stopping.
This is typically nothing more than an empty threat.
You must remember their goal is to get you to provide money, not use their own money to track you down in another country.
It’s easier for them to just put their focus on finding the next victim.
But if sending a threatening email will land them hundreds or thousands of dollars, then why wouldn’t they try?
If you’re feeling fear due to the threats, you can always report the behavior to your local authorities.
As I said, not every scam will follow this pattern exactly as it is here.
But many share at least some of these characteristics.
Over time, these scammers have become more and more sophisticated.
Unfortunately, social media has made it even easier to scam others.
Whether it’s through finding people to scam, stealing pictures from public profiles, or setting up their profile to lend an air of legitimacy, social media has made it harder and harder to discern what’s real versus not.
Overall, it all comes down to the money.
If you’re asked for money in any format, whether it be cash, gift cards, money transfers or wires, purchasing items, or helping them to cash checks, it’s a scam.
13 thoughts on “The Stages of a Dating Scam”
My story is that he is looking for the mother or his child. He said he has enough money. And always got the big money after the mission done. By only two days he wanted me to be his GF. Then want to married with me because he said i am the best lady for his kids….he told me tha he is undercover mission in western africa and very stress. He said i made him strong and he really like chat with me and risky himself just for texting with me. But turn to be weird when he asked about how much i have in my saving account, do i have jewellery, do i have gold, ask my retirement fund. He will be angry everytime i asking questions to other about US marine stuff or if I search the article in the internet. He said that He is the only who tell me the truth. He also forbid me to meet another guy even the guy is just a friend. And then my suspicious to him realize when he got his leg hurtbecause his boots get spoiled when doing the mission and ask help for me to transfer some money to his friend, african friend to buy the boots through WU. Because he cant access his bank account when he still in the mission. So at that time, i said to him that he is a scammer. Soldier do not ask money. As i know, they will be provided enough with kind like boots, clothes etc etc and why they ask help from me not from his boss. Then he became angry amd said he has a lot of money and not poor and dont want my money anymore. And said that i made a big mistakebecause he has much love for me and since i called him scammer he dont want to text with me anymore and block me… Well, tor be honest i am bit broken heart but at least i still have my money. I dont know whether he is the real soldier or scammer, for me if a guy has good intention, she will understand why i dont send him money. And thank u for your article
I’m sorry you were hurt. It’s definitely a scammer and not a real soldier.
Thank you so much. My gut told me something after 3 days so I started researching and found your sight. Got him on day 4.
Said he was Mavis D Colins on a peace keeping mission
My scammer did it very complicaties so He was a bit more succesfull. He said He was in turkey. He said he is half dutch( i am dutch) He got under attack and wanted to send a pakkage with very important documents to me. I told him oké. He sended the pakkage and then i got from a malasian number that i had to pay. I said i didn’t had the number. I accused my Guy of Being a scam and asked to face time. He sended me a 1 second film. I ignore my gut. And i payed to a ukraine account. Offcourse the package did not came. The second Guy told me that the money was not there and that the international bank would send the money back. He kent this story for 2 weeks and i was asking for proof. On this proof was my bankaccountnr so i knew it was false. Then i started looking and asking my Guy for proof. A photo from him with a piece of paper with the date. A got photo’s but not that one. I asked again, He became mad that i didn’t trust him etc. So i asked his militair email adress i got a @army.mil account. He got mad when i told him that that is wrong and how i a simple dutch sevilian would know how a us army works and all that kind of shit. I reported him by watts app and Blokked him. I take my löss. A big lesson and i am very curios what the other Guy Will tell. Thanks for listening
Meet a guy on Tik Tok he asked me to join Hangout and talk to him. He messaged me everyday all day long, then in the beginning of Nov he told me he was being sent to Afghanistan and wouldn’t be able to talk to me, that much. Well since then he still continues to message me everyday all day long. He has asked me to help him with communication fees so that we can still talk, finally got off that and then started with needing a new cell phone. I told him I couldn’t help him because i owed money on my bill, well he sent me money to pay my bill. Now he wants to order cell phones for him and his cousin. I won’t do it. So after he argued with me for two days and I wouldn’t answer him he is now telling me that he is getting 20 thousand dollars and wants me to receive it and I can keep 2 thousand out of it. I told him I couldn’t do that, he said I could because I am his fiancé. I told him to send it to his mother, he said he can’t do to her age. I have searched his pictures and can’t find them anywhere, so I am unsure but pretty sure it is a scam.
I’ve been chatting to a army guy that’s deployed. Pictures match , I’ve researched him and he supplied his gmail to me . When I ask for his .mil address he changes the subject . I ask for his APO to send something he wouldn’t tell me . I don’t know if his real but I’ve been chatting to him on hangouts and I’ve asked for him to call , Skype. I’ve sent no money or gift cards
Hi Stacey how to get in touch with you different website than this one please? Can you drop me off an email or something with any contact information.
I’m a single mother of 2 & I Wk at the SPCA. I’m seeking help bcuz I need to know the truth. I started talking to a man a little over mo. ago on Tinder??♀️. He claims that he’s a US Marine a/Camp Pendleton, Oceanside Ca. He’s already asked for $ for the 3rd time on 06/22/2020. Can anyone help verify him?
He started off addressing me by the name “pretty” (hello pretty. Yes pretty. I’m sorry pretty.). One other man has done that before (not in the service.. random guy) & I stopped talking to him. Sounds foreign to me ??♀️. He said he wasn’t foreign… yet his written verbiage was off.
Within approx 2-3 weeks this guy wanted to become serious with me. Soon after came the “I❤️u’s”. & then he asked for $!! I’ve “only” sent $260.. via prepaid cards. A $200 prepaid MasterCard (for civilian clothes off eBay. His card/account wasn’t working?).. $60 prepaid visa (he needed vitamins & supplements?? Are those provided?).
The on the 22nd he asked if I could “help him“ & get another prepaid card for $100. He said shipments are very slow there right now bcuz of the outbreak & needed to order some essentials (I didn’t even ask this time. I boldly said no more moneys coming from me). He said the military doesn’t “provide” essentials. I told him I can’t keep sending him $! I have bills & 2 kids to feed.
(Given he is who he says he is).. He’s a 34 year old man with no kids.. lives in the “quarters” on base with 1 roommate. He claims he also keeps an apartment in Sacramento for the past 2yrs with no roommates. He said he stays there 1 weekend at the end of every month & when he’s on leave & his yearly vacation.. before the outbreak.
His leave supposedly just came up sometime around “now”. All he would tell me before was it starts at the end of this month.. but he didn’t know the exact date yet. So then at the end of last week he was told he got an email on his Wk email (no I don’t have that. He gave me a Hotmail email address). He said his “boss” told him it was very important & he needed to be looked at right away. He says he’s sure
it’s deployment orders (he hasn’t even looked at the email yet??). & he still hadn’t looked at it as of 3 days ago. I haven’t said much to him the day before yesterday or yesterday. I was very short & cold with him both days after he came at me asking for $ again. I asked him again where he’s going for deployment on Monday & he still hadn’t looked??!
He said yesterday afternoon that he’s very worried about us but wants to wait until tonight to talk with me about it. He’s done this before when I get cold & short with him. I know he’s going to say how much he’s hurting bcuz he knows something’s bothering me but I’m not talking about it.
Okay so I’m updating here.. that conversation just ended.. he tried saying he feels like I found someone else.. as if I’m cheating on him. An hour of flipping out on him for that & then after we finally cleared it up & were okay for a second.. he brings up the $. Saying that I think he wants to leave me now that he got money from me. Bcuz I told him if he’s coming at me with seeing someone else as a way out by making me the bad guy.. he can have his out! He started many times how much he loves me & that’s not what he wants. He was just worried bcuz I was being different towards him (YA..after the money thing). I asked where that came from & he said he’s not trying to take me for my money. That he’s not in this relationship for money..?!
So my daughter & I’ve looked him up on TruthFinder & found him under 3 different names.. none are the first names he gave me. I found his FB (?-or the guy he’s impersonating.. bcuz it’s wide open & goes back quite a few years!) he says it was hacked. All the pictures he uses are on that fb & go back to at least 2010. He claims to be from Hawaii (born & lived)..yet his whole family seems to be in N. Colorado & Texas. His phone # says it’s coming from Texas.
He said he joined the marines bcuz it was something his deceased father had always wanted for him (says his father was a marine) & he loves being a marine.. serving his country. He claims he’s been in for 8yrs & only has like 3 years left. He said he “works” at Camp Pendleton as an aviation ordnance technician (which would make him a Sargent..?) He said yes. Then wants to contract out for the marines after his 3 years are up.
As I already stated.. the first name he gave me isn’t the same as the one on his fb or Pinterest account I found. Or the 4 different first names we found on TruthFinder. However the last name is. It’s how I found him & all the extra information in the first place. However all the last names have been correct (the same) as to the last name he actually gave me.
& as for bdays.. TruthFinder gave me 2 different ones & he had another one on his Skype profile which he said was wrong when I questioned him about it & told me a 4th one.. & he was going to fix that on there right then (he did).m
& we tried Skype once but it didn’t work on my end for some reason?. He claims ever since we tried that.. now the mic on his phone isn’t working. That’s why we’re not able to actually talk on the phone. No I have never actually talked on the phone with him as of yet.But he said he’s going to get that fixed really soon so we can start talking & video chatting ??♀️!
Don’t worry.. not sending anymore money!! I just want to know if the relationship is actually real before I become anymore emotionally invested. Without him knowing in case he actually is legit.
I will give the names & social profile information privately. If he’s actually legit I don’t want to out someone who doesn’t deserve it. Nor would I want to loose him if he’s for real!
I have been talking to a so called soldier he says in the army on the peace keeping mission in special mission i have asked him if he could video chat me he he had ask his Commander and his connader sai no because he on a special mission in Aleppo Syria so I said do you have a base were you are so we can video chat I would love to talk to you and he said you know I can’t talk military stuff and didn’t talk to me for a few days
I got a supposed soldier when I was toying with a dating site, due to my boredom. He messaged me, and after 3 days told me to send him 2 hundred dollars. Proclaimed he loved me and wants to marry me. I told him soldiers do not ask for money, and he said he didn’t want to lose me.
Due to my marriage, I don’t trust people, and I especially didn’t trust this one. So I confronted him, and he got shocked that I called him a scammer. His English was doing my head in anyway. So I am blocking him. I am done talking to him.
I was noticed on FB by a man claiming to be a Captain in the USN soon to be retired after 35 years service.. He is in love with me within a week and after two weeks asks me to find us a home and for his son 8 and daughter 10 years old, wife died in child birth. Then he wants my bank information so he can move monies from his account into my account for the10% down payment on a 400,000.00$ home in Daytona Beach Florida. Naturally I refused, blocked him and then he began writing me email from where I has sent him house information saying how I had hurt him deeply….I unblocked him and began tracing him…When I googled his actual FB email account all the “results” were RUSSIAN encryption sites. I began posting and notifying his friends on FB and he has now blocked me! He uses the names of Greg Cole, Robert Cole or Rebort Cole. all at gmail and askes you to join him in Hangouts…….DON’T! He is very clever and sends you a Captain’s photograph with the name badge showing COLE in dress whites, and then follows with pictures of him in different military work uniforms….Claims to be in Iwakuni Japan and will be back in the USA in July……I did run his photographs on a service catfishing.com and none of them were in the data bases it searched.
The man is actually in INDIA or Pakistan
BEWARE IF THEY CAN PUT MONEY INTO YOUR ACCOUNT THEY CAN TAKE IT OUT!!!!!!!