Do you know what a romance scam looks like?

It goes something like this: Someone online reaches out, wanting to start a romantic relationship. You form a bond without meeting in person, maybe even make plans to get married. Eventually, they'll ask for money. You'll be so swooned by the scammer, that you send it. By the time you realize your money isn't going where you expect it to go, you'll be broken hearted and your bank account will be depleted.

Oftentimes the scammer will target older people who have recently lost a spouse. But you don't have to be a fool for love!

Here are some things the FBI says you should be aware of:

  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
  • Go slow and ask questions.
  • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to go “offline.”
  • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests.
  • Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.

The last one is a big one - asking for money is a huge red flag! And a lot of the time if you send the money away, you're not going to get it back.

This is something that happens to thousands of Americans every year.

If you or someone you know has been hit with a romance scam, you can report it to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office: http://www.ncdoj.gov/complaint

Or you can report it to the FBI: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx