(Last Updated On: September 6, 2020)

RSN™ Guide: Scammer Fake Profiles

A site visitor recently asked about the methods scammers use for fake profiles.

A Typical Fake Profiles Will Have:

  • Are all the photos stolen?
  • How do they choose which photos to steal?
  • Are the names all made up?
  • Do they use different names?


Let’s talk about the photos used on fake profiles first.

They are almost always stolen photos for the African scammers – the exception is when they use their real photos or that of a girlfriend – in those cases, they are using real identities but it is still a scam.

Each scammer or even gang has a portfolio of photos they use over and over. They have the analysis that shows which ones work – this is, after all, a business and it is driven by analysis and stats.

They steal a large number of photos of the same person(s) so they can create variety in their fake profiles. An individual scammer may create several hundred (or even thousands) fake profiles a year – but there is a limit – it comes down to how can they manage them all.

Most victims never think about the logistical problems associated with managing hundreds or thousands of separate fake personas. It is more significant than you think.

When they create each fake profile they have to use a separate email address, so they create tons of Yahoo or Gmail email addresses, but they also turn on forwarding on each account so one central email address gets notified by each of the individual emails of any activity. So that central email address becomes their dashboard or control panel of what is happening in their scammer space.

Using the same stolen people helps them reduce the number of moving parts to a manageable level. It also means it is easier for them to send photos by email without messing up and sending the wrong person (which used to happen a lot).


Names are another point of significant confusion for the scammer.

Many times they will use the same name over and over so that they can remember who they are supported to be and not screw up when talking to a victim. But they will also use sub-names or nicknames (with some made up story about why they do this).

This allows them to switch the victim over from the displayed name to a common name quickly that they can remember during the conversations with the victim.

It is actually very hard to keep it all straight if they do not do this, and scammers not very long ago had big problems with keeping their identities straight – but with organization comes improved techniques and better training. So a significant red flag is when you see a profile name and then they refine it to something else.

Scammer Insight:

Today, organized scammers use large spreadsheets or even Microsoft Office 365 Notes to keep all of their identities straight. This allows them to make fewer mistkes that give up the game!

The result is that a single individual scammer “tends” to use the same stolen person and the same or similar names over and over and over. But they also arrive at a point where they are no longer viable. Why? Becuase we blow their identities up through overexposure! Every time you help by reporting a scammer on the SCARS Anti-Scam Data Reporting Network via www.Anyscam.com or other entry points you reduce the effectiveness of an identity (IN CONTRAST TO REPORTING IT IN A GROUP ON FACEBOOK WHICH IS A NEAR TOTAL WASTE OF TIME).

When the scammer has to create a whole new persona this is time-consuming and makes them prone to errors that disrupt their ability to make money. Some people argue that scam baiting is effective, but it is not, it just teaches the scammer new techniques to avoid being caught the next time. The most important approach is to never let the scammer know that you know, and report them to blow their cover identity as broadly as possible – the SCARS Network is proving very effective in that.

Remember that the scammer is just a simple individual and they use habits and simple strategies to keep it all together. They have to run hundreds of identities to have a chance to close the deal on a victim. This is very complex and they have to be organized enough to do it. It isn’t easy, so the more we can disrupt that organization (not through baiting) but by destroying viable identities, the more we can cut into their cash-flow.

Ultimately, nothing is effective except interrupting the money-flow. We know that few scammers will ever be arrested. However, these gangs have a cost for each scammer that works for them, and unproductive scammers do not succeed.

Does it sound like we admire them? No, but we recognize that they are an organized business that treats individual scammers like salesmen that have to make a quota. Wasting their time actually improves their skill. Blowing up their identities is effective because this is a process that takes time to create new ones.


In the last couple of years, we have seen that they are now outsourcing identity creation. There is at least one group in Vietnam working to create identities, and these are far better than what the scammers could do by themselves.

If you are a victim, you need to understand that you are facing a well-organized enemy. The stupid scammer grammar™ profile text is now (mostly) a thing of the past – though you still see some by individual and small-gang scammers.  You see it more often in the impromptu writings of scammers in their chats. Scammers even have professional scriptwriters now, and in some cases have outsourced the email portion of their work to better language writers (some located in Asia, such as Vietnam).

If you do not yet understand that this is big-business you are deluding yourself.

Remember, you are your own worst enemy in this. You have to learn survival skills to live online now. And take off the rose-colored glasses; you are swimming with sharks all around – even in the anti-scam world too. Incompetent groups and even scammer run groups are everywhere.

Start Learning Who To Trust By Trusting No One!

No one is going to save you or get your money back, but we can educate you and talk you down off of the cliff you are standing on.

REMEMBER: ANYONE that claims they are going to Africa to arrest scammers is lying (other than government). The same for money recovery.


We hope this gives you some insight into the real world of scamming, not what most groups of wannabe experts tell you so often.

If you have other questions, please tell us and we will help to expand everyone’s knowledge in every way we can.

Please post your questions and comments below.

Tom Borman,
a division of the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams [SCARS]

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