They also use many aliases, emails, photos, gender, age and sexual orientation in order to cast their net to catch as many victims as possible.
Often the scammers use attractive female photo profiles because lots of men will respond to an attractive woman's personal ad based on the photo alone.
They then post ads with fake profiles on online dating sites .
They also lurk in chat rooms and social networking sites as well as Christian and other religious-based dating sites.
The photos are usually stolen from modeling sites with reports that 90% of them are being taken from Focus Hawaii.
If you think you are being scammed, go to this site and browse all the photos to see if the person you are communicating has a photo on this site. However they also use photos taken from profiles of other people on dating sites, so remember that the photos that scammers use are not photos of themselves - they are photos of innocent victims.
The reasons for needing the money will sound plausible.
Sometimes the scammer purchases goods with stolen credit cards but have trouble getting them delivered as many US merchants are now wary of shipping to Nigeria.
They ask if their soul mate can re-ship them to Nigeria.
They then spend months chatting up and luring their naive targets with online intimacy.
They often pretend to be foreign specialists [from the US, UK or Canada, but can be any European country]temporarily working in Nigeria or other African country.