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Top Story: Online romance scams skyrocketing

Top Story: Online romance scams skyrocketing
© Nicoleta Ionescu | Dreamstime.com

The internet has changed the way we live in so many ways. So much of our lives are conducted online these days it's a wonder how we ever accomplished anything previously. From the little things, such as communicating with friends and family to more important functions like online banking. The possibilities are endless.

Another big change brought about by the internet is how we meet a significant other. Millions of people in the U.S. use online dating sites every year in hopes of finding love. But are you putting yourself at risk looking for a partner this way?

The quick answer to that question is yes. Your finances especially.

Financial risks brought on by online dating

The FBI says that "sweetheart scams" have become such a problem that from October 2013 to February 2016, there were over 17,600 reported victims suffering $2.3 billion in losses. In these scams, fraudsters present themselves as a perfect match to someone online. Then, the scammer preys on a victim's trust to bleed their bank accounts dry.

The criminal typically makes up a story, claiming they need money to afford a visit to the victim. The heist doesn't end there as the criminal will find more reasons why they need more money until the victim gets wise and stops sending it. We recently told you about a woman who was scammed out of $270,000 this way.

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, online dating sites are sure to be super busy. That's why you need to know how to spot a scammer.

Recognizing an online dating scam

The Federal Trade Commission is trying to help people avoid these online dating scams. Here are some suggestions it gave to watch for:

  • Your match professes love too quickly
  • Claims to be from the U.S. but is traveling or working out of the country
  • Cancels a meeting or trip at the last minute
  • Asks for money
  • Spelling and grammatical errors

The FBI warns that you should never send money to through a wire transfer service to someone you met online. The chances of recovering your money are very slim.

It's never too late in life to find true love and dating sites can be a helpful resource. You just really need to be careful and use common sense in most cases to stay safe. Happy dating!

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