Millions of Americans visit online dating websites every year hoping to find a companion or even a soulmate.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..Information about scammers and spammers will protect you from the handful of people who use online dating services illegitimately and emotional safety tips will keep your heart intact.

mediaw online dating-45

Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents.

And 38% of Americans who are single and actively looking for a partner have used online dating at one point or another.

We strongly recommend, however, that if you think you’ve been victimized by a dating scam or any other online scam, file a complaint with our Internet Crime Complaint Center (

Before forwarding the complaints to the appropriate agencies, IC3 collates and analyzes the data—looking for common threads that could link complaints together and help identify the culprits. Here are some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of an online dating scam.

One in ten Americans have used an online dating site or mobile dating app themselves, and many people now know someone else who uses online dating or who has found a spouse or long-term partner via online dating.

General public attitudes towards online dating have become much more positive in recent years, and social networking sites are now playing a prominent role when it comes to navigating and documenting romantic relationships.Compared with eight years ago, online daters in 2013 are more likely to actually go out on dates with the people they meet on these sites.Some 66% of online daters have gone on a date with someone they met through an online dating site or app, up from 43% of online daters who had done so when we first asked this question in 2005.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.While the FBI and other federal partners work some of these cases—in particular those with a large number of victims or large dollar losses and/or those involving organized criminal groups—many are investigated by local and state authorities.The pictures you were sent were most likely phony lifted from other websites.