Online romance scams costing millions

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More than 3,000 complaints were filed by Chicago-area people victimized by romance fraud scams over the last three years. (WLS)

In the past three years, Better Business Bureau Chicago has received more than 3,000 complaints from Chicago-area people victimized by romance fraud scams.

According to a BBB report released Tuesday, an estimated 1 million Americans have been ripped off during the same time period, with losses nearing $1 billion.

Using various dating sites or social media, BBB says the scammers often portray themselves as U.S. military members or use profile pictures of someone good looking. They romance their victims online for several months until the victims gain their trust. The scammers often prey on victims who are over 50, widows and single parents. The scammers will then ask their victims to wire money.

"This is an especially vicious scam because it not only breaks bank accounts, it also breaks hearts," said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau Chicago.

BBB Chicago is working with the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to warn consumers about the scam.

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It's Valentine's Day and for single people, that might have you yearning for a little romance.

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