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According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, online romance scams account for higher financial losses than any other internet-based crime.

It’s not uncommon for victims to lose tens of thousands of dollars.

“My heart just sank and I thought, this doesn't seem right,” she said. Grey says he has personally spoken to women who've given more than ,000 to someone that they've never met in person. Grey says many of these criminals work out of cyber cafes in west African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana.

“His thing was, ‘well, this is top secret, we're fighting the terrorists, we can't do anything that would compromise that, so I can't use the phone.' And I believed all this," Schuster said. Shortly after the first wire transfer, the man told her that he wanted to get out of the Air Force and join some of his pilot friends in starting a private company that flies charter planes.

After a few weeks, the man told her he needed some money to help his daughter go on a school trip. She was told the military wouldn't let him access his bank accounts, so he needed her help to make his dream happen.

(I know; red flag.) “He even called me, calling me ‘Mom’ a few times,” she says.

Then, after about a week of heavy correspondence, Firefly’s boyfriend announced his son’s birthday was coming up, and suggested she send him a gift. It was pretty gratifying, she says; the son was ecstatic.

The military does not freeze members' bank accounts or credit cards and provides health care for deployed service members. Schuster said she was encouraged to use personal email immediately rather than the site.

The faster the scammer is off the dating site, the lower the chances of being caught using a fake profile, according to Schuster.

The scams tend to pick up around the holidays, Grey said, so women dating online need to be careful. Never send money to someone that you've never met, never talked to on the phone,” he said.

Look out for inconsistencies Grey told VOA there are several red flags to watch for when cyber scammers are looking for targets.

Schuster noticed that her suitor had bad grammar, but that didn't really bother her because her immigrant father had poor grammar as well.

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