The scammers may also try to trick victims into revealing sensitive information such as credit card numbers.

If you begin corresponding with a person with a view to a possible romantic relationship, remain cautious even if the relationship seems to be progressing very well.

Just over a year ago, the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—had pleaded guilty to conning tens of millions of dollars from Americans via online dating sites.

According to the FBI, romance scams and similar confidence scams cost consumers more money than any other kind of Internet fraud.

In 2016, the last year for which data is available, consumers lost more than $230 million this way.

Sadly however, scammers have managed to effectively exploit this trend to further their own nefarious ends.

Many people around the world have been duped into sending money to Internet fraudsters posing as would-be girlfriends or boyfriends.

Instead, they may ask their victim to cash money orders or cheques and wire them the proceeds.

The money orders or cheques will turn out to be fake or stolen and the victim will be left out of pocket and possibly held responsible for receiving stolen funds.

Experts say online daters are always wise to be skeptical regarding what someone they’ve met online, and not in the flesh, tells them.

Most dating websites—even ones that cost money—don’t vet the people who sign up.

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(The FBI says it may be embarrassing for victims to report this type of fraud scheme because of the personal relationships that are developed, so the real numbers are probably higher.) As one result, fear of a horrible first date is just one of the things a would-be online dater has to worry about. “Most people think the victims are middle-aged women who can’t get a date, but I have worked with men and women of all ages—doctors and lawyers, CEOs of companies, people from the entertainment industry—who you’d never think in a million years would fall for these scams but do,” says Barb Sluppick, who runs Romance Scams, a watchdog site and online support group.