They will invest months into a relationship, seemingly asking for nothing in return.
"Even in the last decade, so many more people meet other people online for the purpose of dating," said New York attorney Jonathan Hood, who has written extensively on internet fraud. Of course, the best way to tell if the person you are dealing with is real is to meet in person. "If they say, 'I'm not ready to meet you in person,' or 'I want to continue just chatting online,' that could be trouble," Hood said.
"It just makes it so much easier for people to connect without ever meeting in person, and sort of as a result, never really verifying that the other person is who they say they are." In the latest twist, reported on the next episode of CNBC's "American Greed," con artists are exploiting Americans' respect for the military. Moving your relationship from virtual to real is a big step. If you are not yet comfortable meeting your new friend in person, Hood says to at least try to move away from the confines of the dating site by getting their email address or connecting on Facebook. "If you start getting, 'I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with that yet,' it doesn't mean that they're a scammer, but in my mind it would raise some red flags," Hood said.
"A lot of times English isn't somebody's first language, so that's completely understandable. S.-born and their writing just doesn't feel like that of a native-born person, that could be a red flag." That is because online dating scams in particular frequently originate overseas.
"From just a purely legal perspective, it's more difficult to prosecute people for doing this overseas," Hood said.
The number of victim complaints between June and December 2015 is more than 900 higher when compared to the same time the year before.