WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) You may be looking for love, but scammers are looking for your money by targeting lonely singles, and it's paying off big for some scammers. It's called the romance scam.
Denise Groene says those looking for love using online dating sites are the most at risk, and once a victim falls in love, that's when the scammer starts asking for money.
"You know they use those relationship building tactics and they get their victims emotionally involved and a lot of times they're preying after somebody that is lonely. It's easy for these victims to get wrapped up in these romance situations," Groene said.
Even though it may seem to the victim that love is on the line, Groene said it's rare that it's actually anywhere but online.
"They're out there trolling for other people and you never meet them face to face," she said.
Instead, Groene said, scammers send intimate messages that lull the victim into a sense of familiarity and confidence, sometimes even sending flowers to their intended target.
"Hello angel," read one note.
"Good morning to you sweetest of souls," read another uncovered during a Better Business Bureau investigation into romance scams.
Most scammers find their victims on dating websites. The two biggest sites for it, according to the investigation, are Match.com and eHarmony.
In the U.S. alone, scammers have raked in close to $237 million in 2015, $295 million in 2016 and $351 million by 2017. In the last three years, the BBB says romance scams bilked more than $1 billion globally.
Groene said there is no big secret to avoiding these scams. She said looking for love is fine, but as soon as you think you've found it and that person starts asking for money -- run the other way.