young woman and older man eating lunch -- Beware dating scamsThe government is warning would-be online lovebirds to beware of scam artists just looking for holiday hearts to break.

The Federal Trade Commission says that instant love found online may not be the real thing."In a typical scenario, the scam artist creates a fake profile, gains the trust of an online love interest, and then asks that person to wire money -- usually to a location outside the United States," the FTC said.

It's not the first time scam artists have hit the personal ads. In August, the Better Business Bureau flagged a group pretending to be military members -- soldiers who needed a little financial help.

That same month, an Ohio couple faced federal charges after convincing people who signed up for an online dating service that they had sent naughty phone messages and pictures to a child. After one of their victims sent them over $2,000, he called the FBI.

Once you wire the money, the authorities say it's gone. Poof. Like the love you once knew.

Here are some warning signs that someone you met online could be in it for the money:
  • Wanting to leave the dating site immediately and use personal email or IM accounts.
  • Claiming instant feelings of love.
  • Claiming to be from the United States but currently overseas.
  • Planning to visit, but being unable to do so because of a tragic event.
  • Asking for money to pay for travel, visas or other travel documents, medication, a child or other relative's hospital bills, recovery from a temporary financial setback, or expenses while a big business deal comes through.
  • Making multiple requests for more money.
If you're the victim of one of these scams, you can file a complaint with the FTC.

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