FBI Report: Online dating romance scam cost singles millions
Online dating is a convenient way to find everlasting love, but the yearning desire for romance is leaving singles love sick and in a costly web of fraud.
The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center report calls it confidence fraud or the romance scam.
Criminals pose as military personnel and hunt on dating sites and social media for information on potential vulnerable victims. They then pretend to be in a online relationship and start feeding the victim with tragic stories and family hardships to get money.
FBI Director James Comey said they're facing the threat of cyber security head on.
\"We're working very, very hard to deploy resources around the world so we can lock some people up and send a message this is not a freebie where we can't lock people up,\" he said.
The romance scam totaled more than $86 million in losses last year. Women over 40 lost the most at $68 million and men over 40 were taken advantage of for $13 million.
Comey said increased use of social media makes protecting the public much more difficult.
\"I don't think it's an impossible task,\" he said. \"It's just very, very hard.\"
So how do you avoid falling victim?
The FBI suggests watching out for those who claim the romance is destiny or fate. Be alert of individuals who say they can't live without you, but need you to send money so they can visit. Also, be cautious of those who claim to be from the U.S., but are overseas or plan to go there for business or family.