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“We’ve had chatrooms since the dawn of AOL, back when I was a kid,” D’Antuono says, “and criminals will use whatever technology and tools that they possibly can to take [victims’] money.” Speaking not about the Chicago case, but generally about romance fraud, D’Antuono says victims include men and women, straights and gays, and people of all ages, races and walks of life.

Nobody can pinpoint how many romance scams occur in the U.

The Nigerian reported coming into a five-figure inheritance and, in increments, transferred more than ,000 into the victim’s bank account.

The victim then wired the money to another person on Rochet’s behalf, becoming “an unwitting money mule in this scheme,” the complaint said.

En español | If you’re looking for love online, make sure to keep your wallet — if not your heart — under lock and key.

Fraud cases are climbing as the number of dating sites and apps — and users — grow.

Maya Diamond is a Dating and Relationship Coach in Berkeley, CA.

S., in part because many cases are believed to go unreported. The Federal Trade Commission, a consumer protection agency, received 16,902 reports of romance scams in 2017. Reports to the FTC for the first nine months on 2018, when annualized, were on track to surpass those from the year before. “The best advice is don’t give money to someone you’ve never met in person,” D’Antuono says. The Dallas-based Match Group owns a host of dating sites including Tinder, Ok Cupid, Our Time and, which is one of the sites the alleged scammers used, according to the complaint.

Lauren De Ford, the company’s senior manager of marketing, said scams are rare and that the firm takes fraud “very seriously.” The company’s brands are available in more than 42 languages in more than 190 countries, according to its website.

If retired, “they’re not going to work for eight hours a day, so they have a lot more time to take that phone call.” Additionally, some older folks are experiencing cognitive decline, so potentially they are more susceptible, he says. Like many Americans, D’Antuono knows people who became partners after first meeting in cyberspace.

Perpetrators, meantime, can feign so much charm you’d think they’d kissed the Blarney Stone, D’Antuono says. But he also knows well that scammers can — and will — do more than steal your heart.

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She received her Master's in Somatic Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2009. Dating and relationship coach Maya Diamond says: "If you haven't met someone in person and they're saying, 'I love you,' there's a good chance they're a scammer, especially if they haven't made an effort to meet you.

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