NEW YORK (WABC) -- Looking for love nowadays can not only break someone's heart, but it can also bust their wallet.
Romance scam losses reached $200 million last year, which is more than any other scam reported to the Federal Trade Commission.
It used to be older, lonely Americans falling prey, but millennials who exist primarily in a digital bubble are also getting "love-swindled" at an alarming rate.
Roughly 25,000 consumers reported being romanced into a scam last year, with most looking for love in all the right places, but sometimes wrong places on dating and social networking sites.
The FTC is warning love-seekers to spot telltale signs of a fake romance.
"He says he's from the U.S., but works out of the country," an FTC video warns. "Says he wants to visit, but asks you for money."
Scam sob stories include asking for help paying for cancer treatments, payments to repair car problems or asking for money to pay for transportation to visit someone in the flesh.
"Catfishing" is when fraudsters hide behind fake profiles and photos and try to fool someone, often rushing people into an online relationship.
Telltale tip-offs to a phony profile are a person who says they're in the military, works an oil rig or is a doctor working for charity overseas. All jobs will make meeting face-to-face difficult, and if he or she asks for money, walk away, no matter how compelling the story.
The Big Takeaway
-NEVER send money or get gift cards for someone communicating with you online or on the phone.
-If you're suspicious, simply stop communicating.
-Do a reverse image search, where you take their profile picture to see if it comes up with another name or detail. Many times scammers steal pictures from other profiles.
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