'Lovestruck and robbed blind': Don't let romance scam you this year

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - With Valentine's Day just around the corner, the Better Business Bureau wants to keep the community's romantics from falling for online scams. 

The BBB held a conference on Tuesday to discuss how scammers use dating websites to prey on unsuspecting victims. 

Nearly 1 million Americans have fallen victim to romance fraud scams over the past three years, and those scams have cost victims nearly $1 billion. The BBB says that $220 million was lost via online dating scams in 2016 alone.

There is no "typical" victim of romance fraud. They can be male or female, young or old, straight or gay. The common denominator is that they are seeking a loving relationship, and they believe they have found it.

Scammers often portray themselves as U.S. military members. Military officials say they receive thousands of complaints yearly from scam victims around the world. Officials note military members will never need money for leave or health care.

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter

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