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The worst schemes involve scammers — often masquerading as members of the military — pretending to seek love online, IC3 said.Romance confidence scams were the most-reported kind of fraud last year, with victims swindled out of ,214 on average.Criminals find it easy to target people on dating sites, based on the wealth of personal information people include on their profiles.They then create their own attractive fake profiles to reel in their unsuspecting targets by striking up a conversation, quickly professing their love, and making plans to meet. Now she was all by herself in a house secluded at the end of a long gravel driveway. At first, she just tiptoed around the many dating sites, window-shopping in this peculiar new marketplace. It wasn't until the fall that Amy was ready to dive in. Later, when she puzzled over their relationship, she'd remember this. That had been a fateful move; it made everything easier for him. After the funeral, a grief counselor told her to make no sudden changes in her life for at least a year, and she followed that advice.Pretty much Opening yourself up emotionally, especially on a public online profile, takes a lot of courage and trust.But you also need to balance that openness with some wariness and healthy skepticism, or you could be taken advantage of.

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“It appears that they’re much more organized,” said Molly O’Hearn, vice president of operations at Iovation, the Portland Ore.-based fraud protection company.

The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent.

And her pitch was straightforward: Looking for a life partner …

But the rise of online dating sites make it easier than ever for people to create fake personas for scams. Online dating has helped plenty of people find love, but users should keep in mind that some of those profiles are maintained by scammers.

By keeping risks in mind and looking out for red flags, users can spot romance fraud before they lose any money and prevent themselves from becoming a statistic.

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