Updated · May 31, 2023
Scammers and catfishers are all over the internet. They hijack social media profiles, dating sites, apps like Tinder, and messaging platforms like Skype, Snapchat, Kik, and WhatsApp.
The Federal Trade Commission reports around 70,000 reported victims of romance scams in 2022 alone - losing $1.3 billion from an overall loss of $10 billion from fraud and scams.
From these statistics, men and women ages 18 to 60 are 13% more likely to be romantically scammed online.
More often than not, these scammers pose as regular people aiming to better their businesses or find romantic partners - and prey on naive and desperate individuals.
Despite their carefully crafted identities, one dead giveaway of scammer profiles is their picture.
Catfishers will create fake profiles using photos and identities from unsuspecting individuals.
To learn more about how these scammers operate and choose the pictures they use, read below how to identify scammer profiles through scammer picture search engines.
When it comes to scamming, both men and women have the potential to be fraudsters. However, women are more likely to be scammed by men and women who pose as attractive men, models, or by military scammer pictures.
On the other hand, men are most likely to lose money or blackmailed by male and female scammers who use photos of beautiful women - usually models or famous personalities.
Nonetheless, they target individuals who are vulnerable, naive, and willing to shell out money in the name of love.
There are many types of scammers - depending on their goals, they vary in intent, approach, and identities.
Most scammers aim to get two things: the trust of their victims (by posing as legitimate people) and to extort money from their targets.
Some scammers may also send links of malware and keyloggers in the guise of helpful information. While some pretend to be “IT Help Support” and install spyware to spy on victims’ devices.
Romance scammers are known to do these - sometimes to just one target. Here are the different types of scammers or catfishers:
Military or Oil Rig Worker Romance Scams
Romance scammers craft their identities carefully, and they know which kinds of men that women want. Hence the military or oil rig worker scams.
Scammers impersonate soldiers or oil rig owners using fake profiles and identities based on real-life people. They usually steal photos from search engines and social media.
These scammers will also forge documents and IDs to legitimize their profiles. Some will also base their identities on real military men using real photos and names.
It has then become a real and ongoing problem among the military. It is also a part of the Federal Trade Commission's Data Spotlight for one of the most common identities scammers use.
Another common dating scam is an inheritance scam. Scammers will pretend to be an inheritor of millions of dollars or come from a wealthy family background.
They typically impersonate men or women living in foreign countries or from Western and European regions, such as the U.S.
Their story revolves around their need to find love and marry soon as possible to get their inheritance. They will also woo the victims using stolen photos from affluent people.
Most of the time, their photos will be of good-looking men or women posing lavishly. They then promise the victims of a good life through these photos to make it seem natural.
However, the takeaway from their identities is that they won't video call or chat with you, and at the same time, their grammar would seem unnatural for someone claiming to be American or European.
Dating sites are full of users looking for relationships and true love. However, most are internet bots, catfish’, and scammers. Once they find a target to entertain them, they start scamming until the victim falls into their trap.
Some lines they will say include:
Before engaging with potential matches on dating sites, ask for identity verification and their social media profiles to know whether they are real.
Remember that most scammers come from organized crime groups - mainly from Nigeria. INTERPOL is constantly looking for members of these crime groups, and their goal is to end cybercrime and fraud.
It’s easy to spot scammer profiles online - if you know what and where to look. Occasionally, scammers will choose common Western names.
Their profiles will also include ridiculous details or grammatically incorrect phrases. Here are more details you should note:
Profile photos are one of the scammer’s priorities in setting up profiles. They take time choosing pictures from the internet or rely on social media and search engines to find the best photo.
Here are ways to identify a scammer’s profile by photo:
Reverse image search is searching for people's images like searching words on search engines.
This method can help you determine whether the person is real. It searches social media, websites, and other platforms where the photo is uploaded.
This can be done on Google. Run a reverse image using Google Lens by uploading the picture of the person you think is a scammer.
When uploaded, click on Find Image Source. Results from the internet will show.
The downside is that it doesn't show the person's details in the picture but only searches for the same uploaded photo or similar images. If this happens, you may use the following methods.
Another tell-tale sign that a person is a scammer is through social media. Most social media platforms have enough history, friends, or pictures involved. This is proof that a person is real or not.
You can find them on Facebook by typing in their name. Alternatively, you can find them on LinkedIn and see if the name, career, and other information match.
If you’re communicating with them on Facebook and other platforms, try stalking their account to see what photos they have or additional information.
They might be a scam if their information needs to include more pictures or a location that seems off.
Background checks or people search sites can be helpful search tools to verify a person's identity.
If you have their name and location, you can search for them on these websites. However, this might not help if you only have a photo, but the information you might get will help you know if they're real.
Alternatively, if their names don't match the photos, there's a high chance that you are talking to a scammer.
If nothing works, try the SocialCatfish. This website caters to users needing help finding catfish from dating sites and platforms.
SocialCatfish works like any other background check or people search site - you can search for a person’s name, address, number, location, and social media profiles using their comprehensive search tools.
However, their best search tool is reverse image search. They use advanced technology to bypass regular image searches by using facial recognition on their photos.
Instead of getting similar-looking images, the SocialCatfish gives you image results with the same face as the person you are looking for.
Their other features also include educational and employment history and criminal records.
Here is a compilation of real scammer photos found online from to give you an idea of the different types of pictures or images scammers use.
Photos of fake women scammers from Social Catfish
Here is a sample of a fake military ID and a photo coming from a scammer. More of these can be found here.
Screenshot of ID photo from Scam Haters United
The following photos are commonly used by Nigerian scammers from Social Catfish
If you feel you are getting or already scammed by someone, report this to the authorities. They can guide you with the appropriate measures to deal with scams and fraud.
Despite your best efforts, scammers can still find their way to your profiles or contact list; with many people using the same apps or platforms, it’s hard to determine which one is real.
The best way to avoid scammers' profiles is to delete, block, and report their profiles as soon as you see one. All scammers - even catfishers - have the same traits: attractive pictures, love bombing, and impossible career or life stories.
Through these, you can avoid getting scammed, prevent them from scamming again, and expose their fake identities. Remember, all it takes is a single picture.
The main red flag you should look out for is scammers will suddenly message you and insist on communicating.
Yes. Scammers will use all possible platforms available. They will also use other messaging apps like Google Chats and Line to communicate with potential victims.
No, You can’t. Dating sites or apps don’t have a feature to filter through scammer profiles. The best way to avoid scammers is by verifying their identities using social media platforms; people search or background check sites and services.
Yes, they can be located. You can use their IP address to track them down. However, this only works if they are not using private network servers or VPNs.
Munni is also an ardent student of human-computer interfaces and user experience design. He makes the vital connections between technology and the end user. He always finds the ultimate way to tell the story of software, to highlight its strengths and weaknesses in an accessible way. He often contemplates the dynamic relationship between humanity and technology over a pint of lager, while enjoying some classy classical rock.
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