7 On Your Side: Online romance scams, one of the hottest in the age of COVID

NEW YORK (WABC) -- It's simply one of the hottest scams in this age of COVID. Online romance scams, where a con artist impersonates someone, starts up a cyber-relationship, and then tries to bilk you out of your bucks.

Last year, the FTC says more than $201 million were lost to romance scams.

That's a year-to-year increase of 4%. That number's going to go higher as more of us are online during the pandemic.

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There are some telltale signs of the scam. First, con artists will find a common interest. They'll cherry pick your social media profile to find a hobby or an alma mater they can share.

Another tipoff is the person will promise to meet face-to-face or do a FaceTime, but will always break the date. Remember for con artists anonymity is everything.

Third, the scammer will always ask for money. They'll start with a small amount for an emergency, like their car breaking down.

Some big takeaways, not to sound like the 7 On Your Side mom, but with online romances remember to move slow.

Check the person's picture and type in his or her name into Google with the word "scam" to see if anyone else reported them.

Lastly, do not give money to complete strangers. The elderly, ages 70 and up, are most vulnerable. On average they lose $10,000 each con job.

7 on your Side helps you not get scammed this holiday season

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