Online Dating Scams: The Romance Scam

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This article is one in a series that discusses protecting yourself from scams when dating online.

There are many online dating scams out there but I would consider this the “main” scam. This scam involves the scammer posing as a potential love interest with the goal of making money off of their target. It’s amazing how many people are fooled by this one but the bad guys are good at what they do and can be very convincing.

The Romance Scam In Practice

  1. You’re contacted by someone who appears genuinely interested in you. If you’re a man, she’s probably very beautiful. If you’re a woman, he may seem either very successful or extremely caring. Other times, though, there may be nothing remarkable about them.
  2. Time will be spent growing the relationship but there will always be something that prevents meeting. Most often this will be due to their being in another country (this fact often plays into the scam further).
  3. As the relationship grows, the scammer will introduce some type of problem they are dealing with. For example, a relative may become ill or some issue will arise with their arrangement for staying in the country. In the beginning this will likely be treated as nothing more than a frustration. The whole point is to prepare you as they move into the further stages of this scam.
  4. Once the scammer feels that you are both convinced of their honesty and emotionally attached to them, they will move into the next phase of the scam. Some type of problem will occur that will desperately require your help. The frustrating issue has now become an emergency: the sick family member is now dying and they are in desperate need of money or they must leave the country at the risk death but haven’t the money to leave. The initial request for money may be quite small and may seem very reasonable. They will persist in their request for money if you hesitate…and they can be very convincing.
  5. You will only reach this point if you’re given money in the step above. At this point, the emergency has become even worse. For example, the money you gave to help with the operation was successful but now if they aren’t able to buy medication to help with the recovery all will be lost. Whatever the emergency was, it will have only become worse. At this point, more money will be requested in a larger amount. This step will be repeated until you run out of money or realize you’ve been taken.

Tips For Spotting The Romance Scam

Did they ask for money?
This should never happen in online dating. No matter how well you think you know someone if money ever, ever, ever comes into the conversation you need to exercise extreme caution. Stop and think: if you were in need of help, where would you turn first? Online dating? Not likely. The number one rule here is easy to remember: at any point in time if someone asks for money there’s a good chance you’re talking to a scammer.

Are they in another country?
They’ll normally be up-front about this because it’s all part of their plan. Being contacted by someone from outside the country is strange. All foreign contact may not be a scam related but I suspect most of it is.

Do they make sense?
Many of these scammers are flooding the same email to many people. They want to build a large base of people to talk with as every person represents another source of potential income. Because they could be sending hundreds of messages, their emails may seem generic or they may not be able to stay on topic with your discussions. They may also struggle with the English language.

Guys: does she look like a model?
Chances are the photo you are looking at is a model. Chances are the person who sent it to you is not her. The money scam relies on getting someone to want to believe that the person that they are talking to is the real deal. With this in mind, the scammer will find a pretty girl somewhere on the internet and will then use this in their profile.

Ladies: did he fall in love with you amazingly quickly?
The scammers may play to men’s eyes but they’ll play to a woman’s heart. Most men are unwilling to throw words like “love” and “forever” around quickly. Most men prefer to meet before making a commitment (and even then we often struggle!). I’m not encouraging pessimism if you’ve found a man who’s crazy about you before you’ve even met but I am advising you that if this perfect man suddenly needs a little money chances are he’s anything but perfect.

Did a small problem turn into a catastrophe?
If so, looking back, were you “prepped” for this emergency? Was the topic frequently touched on?

Time is of no consequence
Many of these scammers are outside of the country and doing this is their job; it’s what they do for a living. They’re more than happy to put in the time. Do not assume that because you’ve built a strong relationship over a month or two that they are who they say they are.

Learn More About Online Dating Scams and How to Better Protect Yourself



About the Author:

Brad initially struggled with online dating but over time became quite successful using it. He met his wife using online dating and has been giving advice and helping people improve their results since 2007. He has written a Free Online Dating Guide to help others find success with online dating. You can learn more about his personal experience using online dating and running this website here.


  1. Yvonne McLaren  January 15, 2012

    I recently was approached by a guy calling himself Coby Hadewych, it was a scam, he said he was a dutch born interior designer, living in Mission Bay Auckland and working in Newmarket, 41 and good looking.
    He was then suddenly in Kuala Lumpor on “business” doing the interior of a hotel for the Marriot group.

    I met him on OK Cupid. Fortunately they had put a notice at the end of the email on my page warning that if anyone asked for money it was never a good idea to do it, that seemed just sensible.

    But when this guy worked his scam it was extremely credible, he named a local church which was one that had a website (funny that) and spoke about his faith as a Christian.

    But as time went on and his contract wasn’t going well etc it started to appear that he was going to be stuck in KL for Christmas and New Year if he couldn’t get $6k to sort it out. Fortunately the business I run means I investigate ciients and I am rather good at it.

    Plus I spoke with friends who had done the sorts of contracts he was talking about in Malaysia, and it all started to sound less and less credible. But he was extremely clever, articulate on the phone, acurate with info about New Zealand (which US people reading this would be surprised about).

    I was never going to give him money and when he realised this after asking me a second time a few weeks late, I “didn’t love him” never mentioned that in any context, and must have thought he was “sceming me” (mispelling was his in the email).

    Watch the Australian 60 mins article called “the Love Scam” and then google datescam and you you will see more about it there.

    Fortunately one of my friends had seen that when I sent her the very professional photos he had sent me and all her alarm bells went off and she sent me the link.

    I then contacted, his supposed church – never heard of him and also flagged it to OK Cupid and Facebook and all sites came down immediately.

    Be aware, it has not put me off internet dating but my mistake was continuing with calls and chat without waiting until I could meet face to face.

    If it looks too good to be true it usually is and as Date Scam says on there site and OK Cupid, if they EVER ask for money it is ALWAYS a scam…

    So grateful I just pushed hard for the truth & found out they never really existed.

    • Peter  January 19, 2012

      Hi Yvonne,

      you helped me very much! You cant imagine how. I was right now in contact with Cody Hadewych (on Gaydar under nick “shydutchgay”), Dutch designer from UK, leaving today to KL to design new hotel:) You saved my time and probably also money…



    • Elizabeth  January 20, 2012

      I have searched and searched for this guy on many scammers web sites. You are the first to post him that I know of. I did give the guy some money, but not much…I was suspicious and should have relied on my instincts…but I didn’t. The only difference in our stories is you were wiser than me. He told me the same exact story except he was 48, he lived in Daytona Beach, he was working at the Gardens in Maylasia…and he is very articulate. I’ve seen a lot of them on web sites and have spotted them from day one. I admit this one really is a lot more articulate than most. Thanks for writing, you saved me much heartache and money.

    • Mary  January 25, 2012

      This is crazy, my sister just called me that this guy Coby, who she has been internet ‘dating’ for about a month, same time as Yvonne, just asked her for money. He had the same Malaysia story. She did a little looking into him, thankfully and has not sent him any money. This is from a J-date website. I guess he is multi-faithed?!
      Isn’t there anyway to find these people?! It is so cruel and to mess with peoples heads and hearts.

  2. Allan  April 27, 2012

    Education on this topic should be expressed on a larger scale in the main stream media..!

    From personal experience I had no idea about this romance scamming until falling victim to it. and at that particular time I wasn’t even registered to a dating site….No my miss darling deception chose to introduce herself via the ‘pop-up window method’ and eventually ‘she’ took me for approximately $5000 over a sixteen month time period,,,!

    Today I know a lot more and now have a better idea of who the celebrities, and fashion models actually are…! The picture or person my Nigerian based scammer chose to impersonate on-line was fashion model Sara Sexton (hot comment excluded),

    Anyhow there are many ways of combating these fraudsters on line such as this fun loving tactic,

    When approached by somebody you suspect of being a scammer on-line simple google there email and user name check out the images section and it will lead you in a number of different website directions in most cases..

    Today when approached by a scammer using pictures of Sara Sexton I simply sat yhis to them on line before sending them the following link

    …( Hey chick wanna watch a movie)…


  3. international investigator  May 16, 2012

    Good article on pointing out the red flags in romance scams. Although internet criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated tactics, these are good tips and can certainly prevent a good number of romance scams. In some cases, internet criminals will never ask for money, and may never mention being in a foreign country. They may use Skype to call you on local numbers, and send you flowers. The criminal might simply try to gather your information and personal data and steal your identity. He or she might send you attachments which contain viruses to obtain your passwords. The lists goes on. Be skeptical online and never reveal your private information to somone you’ve never met. Your ID, date of birth and finacial data should never be shared. If you feel you’ve met someone that could be legit, consider a professional background check to minimize your risk and screen the case for fraud. Romance scams can be prevented.

  4. D.B  June 1, 2012

    I’m so shocked that anyone would even consider giving money to some you don’t “know”. I’m new to the possibility of online dating and I’m about to stick to my convictions that online dating is not the way to go. I don’t mean to sound judgmental, but there is not enough emailing and or calling I could do to trust someone this way. It is hard enough getting to know someone face to face but at least you can read visual clues, body language, voice inflection, etc. Always exercise caution and restraint. Money should never come up in conversation.

  5. Debbie  June 20, 2012

    This Coby guy everyone is talking about. I am online with him myself. All was good, until he asked me for money. Red flags big time.

    He is online on the site above…going under the name Danisharchi.

    He is 47.

    I will cut and paste this info and mail it to the website so they can cut him off.



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