(WWBT) - We all want to find love, but looking online comes with some risks.
Online dating is fertile ground for con artists, and romance scams costs Americans more than $230 million a year.
The FBI says the number is likely much higher since many victims may not report it.
If you're on a dating site or app, here are some things to look out for.
The scam usually involves a con artist building trust through emails, texts or calls over weeks or even months. Once trust has been established, the scammer purports to have some kind of emergency, such as a family member's medical or legal bills.
The victim then wires money to the scammer and communication stops.
Most dating sites do not check members' profiles for potentially fraudulent activity, and a little skepticism goes a long way to keep yourself and your money safe.
One good tool for verifying that a potential suitor is who they claim to be is through a Google image search.
Take the profile image used on the account, or any other pictures they may have sent, and see where else that image shows up online.
There's also a site called Scamalytics that has a list of scammers who use phony photos.
It also doesn't hurt to ask for details like the supposed sick aunt's name and hometown, and the hospital where she's been admitted. That information can help you do a little old-fashioned sleuthing. And if they aren't forthcoming with that information, or it can't be verified, don't believe their story.
If you receive any requests for money over a dating site or app, report the user. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission.
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