How to protect yourself from a new face-swap romance scam

Romance Scam

Romance scams are a growing problem in the digital age, with fraudsters using increasingly sophisticated methods to trick their victims into sending money. One of the latest tactics involves using two phones, one running a face-swap app, to conduct live video calls with victims. This makes the scammer’s fake identity seem even more convincing, making it harder for victims to spot the scam.

face-swap romance scam
Source: DailyMail

How Romance Scams Work

Romance scams typically start with a fraudster creating a fake dating profile and establishing communication with a victim. They build trust over time, often using a mix of text and voice chat. Once they have gained the victim’s trust, they create a fake emergency and ask for a short-term loan, promising to repay it as soon as they land in a fake country.

In most cases, the best a scammer can do to draw victims in is to use a mix of text and voice chat. However, the new tactic of using two phones, one running a face-swap app, to conduct live video calls is making it harder for victims to spot the scam.

New method with two phones and a face-swap app

According to a report from Wired, this new method makes it more difficult to detect the scam. Wired got access to videos of the scammers carrying out the heinous act using two methods. One of the methods involves the use of two phones while the other involves the use of a laptop. Describing the two phone method, Wired said

The scammers use a setup of two phones and a face-swapping app. The scammer holds the phone they are calling their victim with—they’re mostly seen using Zoom, Maimon says, but it can work on any platform—and uses its rear camera to record the screen of a second phone. This second phone has its camera pointing at the scammer’s face and is running a face-swapping app. They often place the two phones on stands to ensure they don’t move and use ring lights to improve conditions for a real-time face-swap, the videos show.

face-swap romance scam
Source: DailyMail

In the screenshot above, you can see a scammer demonstrating the two-phone method. He captioned the video “i don ready for una dis year with my tools”. The caption is in Nigerian Pidgin English and it translates to “I am ready for you guys this year with my tools”. The tools he is talking about are the two phones, the ring light as well as the face swap app.

The second runs on a laptop.

Here, the scammer uses a webcam to capture their face and software running on the laptop changes their appearance. Videos of the setup show scammers are able to see their own face alongside the altered deepfake, with just the manipulated image being displayed over the live video call.

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Wired did not have to dig deep for the videos showing the new scam method. The scammers are very proud of their work and even post a full video on how they pulled it off on Telegram group chats. They mostly post these videos to “educate” other scammers.

Rachel Tobac, cofounder of SocialProof security, says the apps have improved dramatically in the past year.

Especially the ones where they’re able to change the pitch of their voice and the look of their face—sometimes changing skin tone, hair, eye color, everything’s matched. It’s pretty wild.

How to Protect Yourself from Romance Scams

You can protect yourself from these online romance scams in a couple of very simple ways.

  1. Be Cautious: The general advice is for people to be cautious about dating online. If you have not met this person physically, then don’t be too relaxed.
  2. Never release money: If you are dating someone online, one major red flag or deal breaker for you is if the person asks for money. It is almost a 100% indication that the person is a scammer once they ask for money. No matter how convincing they may sound, never release funds to them.
  3. Note their attitude: All scammers have almost the same attitude. They will be the most patient people with you in the talking stage. However, they easily get irritated once you refuse to send money. Keep rejecting their request for money and you eventually start to insult you – that’s the scammer attitude.
  4. Beware of social apps: Beware of apps that ask you to upload a face photo to be transformed into something like an older or younger version of you, a Samurai warrior or whatever. These apps are designed to collect data used to train things like face-swap apps.

Romance Scam

The Growing Problem of Romance Scams

Romance scams are a growing problem, with reports of romance scams that start with unexpected private messages on social media platforms being even more common. 40% of people who said they lost money to a romance scam last year said the contact started on social media; 19% said it started on a website or app.

Last year, nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam and reported losses hit a staggering $1.3 billion. The median reported loss: was $4,400. These scammers pay close attention to the information you share and don’t miss a beat becoming your perfect match. You like a thing, so that’s their thing, too. You’re looking to settle down. They’re ready too. But there is one exception – you want to meet in real life, and they can’t. Reports show romance scammers often use dating apps to target people looking for love. However, reports of romance scams that start with unexpected private messages on social media platforms are even more common.


Romance scams are a growing problem in the digital age, with fraudsters using increasingly sophisticated methods to trick their victims into sending money. By being aware of the signs of a romance scam and taking steps to protect yourself, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to this insidious form of fraud.

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  1. April 24, 2024

    i can’t ! sorry.

  2. April 27, 2024

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