AI generated women steal thousands from men looking for love in dating app and social media scams

ByJason Knowles WLS logo
Friday, November 17, 2023
AI helps scammers steal thousands from those looking for love online
AI generated women on dating apps and social media are the latest frontier for romance scams, which take thousands of dollars using fake relationships

CHICAGO -- Artificial intelligence could be targeting you on texts, social media and dating apps.

Some victims lost thousands of dollars to people they thought were real women but turned out to be fakes. The people behind the scheme were stealing their cash and hearts.

"Hey, hey honey, you're the best," says a woman who may look real to some, but two security experts say the video is heavily filtered, with unnatural eyes and the chin blending into a neck.

Jim, who asked us to not use his last name, had recently been talking to a woman who convinced him to make an investment.

"And then one day she's like, 'Honey, I love you', and I'm like 'What?' and she goes, 'I have fallen in love with you'. And I said, 'Well, I'm old enough to be your dad.' And she said, 'Well, that doesn't matter. We have a lot in common,'" he said.

She also sent photos and what appears to be a sketch of herself and Jim together.

Jim initially met her after getting a mysterious text message. He thought they had a friend in common. He said he wasn't looking to date.

"She goes, 'I've never met anybody to be my equal. You and I have a super lot in common.' And she's had an uncle who was on the board for the stock exchange in Hong Kong," said Jim.

He was convinced to send $60,000 to invest in the stock exchange. He said he lost most of it because the investment tanked. Then, the woman opened up an overseas crypto account in his name, but when Jim tried to take that money out, he was going to be charged thousands in upfront tax fees. Experts say it's a scam.

"I figured, 'What the heck, I'll try somebody online. It couldn't hurt'. I was wrong, it could," Jim said.

Another suburban man, also named Jim, was duped by fake photos as well. He asked us not to show his face.

"I'm asked literally everyday by two or three women online, for money," he said.

He was looking for love online and instead lost thousands of dollars sending gift cards to the people behind these fake and altered photos. He thought the women holding up love messages to him were interested.

"I would say she probably got about $2,000. One day, she got $300 for air fare, $250 for babysitter and $50 for her kids' game cards or maybe even $100," he said.

Security and technology experts at Bitdefender and NordVPN studied all of the pictures and videos. They say behind this filtered face could be anyone.

"We miss micro emotions or movements in in the face, so it does, does not feel exactly right," said Adrianus Warmenhoven of NordVPN.

They confirmed that the pictures and videos are all fake or altered in some way.

"You usually see that hair is not natural. Either it has this halo effect, or it blends into a different color. There are artifacts where the hair meets the background the hair looks little thick," said Bogdan Botezatu of BitDefender.

Experts also spotted generated faces on bodies and different shaped hands, like the hands holding up those signs saying "I love you, Jim."

"Those pictures and that handwritten notes which actually were not handwritten," said Warmenhoven.

The words are likely computer generated. Experts say you should also look for uneven tooth shapes or earrings that look unusual.

"But AI cannot render them symmetrically in a good enough manner. So one of the earrings will be missing, or will have a different size," Botezatu added.

Dating experts say another red flag is a romance that moves too fast.

"You go from one text to three weeks later or three random texts that they love you, or they want to know more about your family, so they're taking all your information and kind of calculating how much money you have," said Lisa Galos of Matchmake Chicago.

Scammers may also be use texting apps instead of a real phone number, so if you meet someone online, try meet in a safe, public place soon after.

"If you really are sincere about dating that person, go from that to let's meet for coffee, offer three times they can meet, they're gonna pick one and they'll show up," Galos said.

Both men say they've learned to never trust strangers with their finances no matter how convincing the stories or pictures may be.

"I'm much smarter than this. And it's just my desire to have somebody in my life, finally, that made me really do something that was stupid and let somebody take advantage of me, I've never done that before," Jim admitted.

AI scammers may also use endearing terms like "babe" and "honey" instead of your real name, because they are using the same messages for multiple people.

Unfortunately these types of romance scams, with or without AI, have gotten worse. Recent numbers from the Federal Trade Commission shows $1.3 billion was lost in 2022.