Online dating scams; how to spot them and how to avoid them

Posted at 12:31 PM, Aug 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-25 12:31:20-04

(CNBC) Millions of relationships have blossomed online, but so have scams, which can break your heart and your bank.

The FBI says losses from these scams topped $230 million last year.

Lilo Schuster is one victim.

She spent years looking for love, then she met a handsome U.S. soldier online and she was smitten.

"I thought we were going to get married," she says.

When he asked to borrow money, she wired it over, again and again.

Unfortunately, her love was a con artist using a stolen photo. She was heartbroken and out $23,000.

Attorney Jonathan Hood writes about fraud for Consumer Affairs and has advice that can protect you.

"Set up a time to meet, or at least speak on the phone or have a video chat. If somebody really doesn't want to do that, there could be trouble," he warns.

Another red flag is a profile with basic spelling or grammar errors. That could mean he or she is a scammer located overseas.

Also, watch out for photos that look a little too glossy, and put the picture through a Google reverse image search.

"If you get a million results for it, chances are it's some kind of a stock photo," Hood says.

And no matter what, never send money. Instead, report the person to the dating site and block him or her from ever contacting you again.