Sluppick has found it’s usually those who are middle-aged and older – and an equal number of men and women – who tend to fall victim to scammers.

Other dangers: sextortion and worse If you’re all dreamy about your online love, you may be vulnerable to sextortion, a form of blackmail, Sluppick says.

Don’t let yourself be persuaded to take off your clothes and perform sex acts in front of your computer, as all of this is often being filmed by the scammer.

If you become suspicious of your scammer, the fraudster may threaten to send the video to your friends, family, workplace or church if you won’t send money. If the scammers do send the video, they won’t get any cash.

“Please, keep your webcam off and your pants on,” Sluppick says.

He had spent nearly a year behind bars after being duped into believing he was transporting real estate papers from South America to London for a woman he’d met online.

In reality, the package contained about 2 kilograms of cocaine. The scammer might ask you to open a new bank account.Don’t disclose your last name, your address, your place of work or other personal details until you meet your love interest in person. You also can copy portions of emails a love interest has sent and use an online search engine to see if the text appears elsewhere, because many scammers work off scripts, Nofziger says.Also, copy his or her photo and do an image search to see if anyone else shows up with that photo, Nofziger says.Western Union received at least 44,500 complaints about online dating and romance scams, with losses totaling at least million, between 20, the FTC’s Todd Kossow says.Amy Nofziger, regional director of the AARP Foundation, explained how a romance scam works: The scammer will often say he or she is from the United States, but is traveling or working overseas, and will quickly profess his or her love for you.“The victims are legitimately in love, legitimately care for this person. They’re thinking emotionally, not cognitively.” In some cases, victims have bought wedding dresses, engagement rings or made wedding plans with someone they’ve never met, Nofziger says.