But as Valentine’s Day gets closer, the FBI wants to warn you that criminals use these sites, too, looking to turn the lonely and vulnerable into fast money through a variety of scams..

These criminals—who also troll social media sites and chat rooms in search of romantic victims—usually claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad. While their most common targets are women over 40 who are divorced, widowed, and/or disabled, but every age group and demographic is at risk. You’re contacted online by someone who appears interested in you.

The chances of recovering your money are very slim.

One way to steer clear of these criminals altogether is to stick to online dating websites with nationally known reputations.

About half (49%) had been on no more than one date in the previous three months.

These findings emerge from a national survey conducted last fall by the Pew Internet & American Life Project looking at the place of online dating in the larger picture of relationships in America.

He may also send you checks to cash since he’s out of the country and can’t cash them himself, or he may ask you to forward him a package. You were targeted by criminals, probably based on personal information you uploaded on dating or social media sites.

The pictures you were sent were most likely phony lifted from other websites.

In another recently reported dating extortion scam, victims usually met someone on an online dating site and then were asked to move the conversation to a particular social networking site, where the talk often turned intimate.

Victims were later sent a link to a website where those conversations were posted, along with photos, their phone numbers, and claims that they were “cheaters.” In order to have that information removed, victims were told they could make a payment—but there is no indication that the other side of the bargain was upheld.

She refused but still complained to law enforcement. "Be careful when someone is declaring their undying love for you and then refusing to meet in person," said Beining of the FBI. "You have to be willing to invest the time in the other person."5. To prevent this, ask a trusted family member or friend for a second opinion on your new admirer.