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Never send money to someone you haven't met in person, and report it if you receive such a request, the statement said.

“Those two steps will stop almost every scam in its tracks and help protect the next potential victim.” Sometimes romance scammers zero in on people who are vulnerable due to divorce, abuse or alienation from their children, D’Antuono notes.

However, you might quickly discover that some things are not what they seem on certain sites and profiles.

Though it is one of the fastest-growing ways for singles to meet each other and form lasting relationships, there are definitely those who use the sites for dishonest purposes.

Today there are an estimated 25,000 romance scammers online worldwide, according to one cybersecurity expert.

Between 5 percent and 25 percent of online daters could be fakes or scammers, says another.

For example, last December the FBI busted a Chicago-based crime ring that victimized at least 11 people through online romance scams.

The alleged cybercrooks met victims through websites and apps, including Match.com, Facebook and Instagram, according to prosecutors.

Lauren De Ford, the company’s senior manager of marketing, said scams are rare and that the firm takes fraud “very seriously.” The company’s brands are available in more than 42 languages in more than 190 countries, according to its website.“We’ve had chatrooms since the dawn of AOL, back when I was a kid,” D’Antuono says, “and criminals will use whatever technology and tools that they possibly can to take [victims’] money.” Speaking not about the Chicago case, but generally about romance fraud, D’Antuono says victims include men and women, straights and gays, and people of all ages, races and walks of life.Nobody can pinpoint how many romance scams occur in the U.As they tug at your heartstrings, they may be in on a callous, calculating, un-Cupid-like scheme, aiming to bamboozle you out of cash.Navigating the world of Internet dating can be an exciting and fun way to meet potential partners.

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