In 2011, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received 5,600 complaints from victims of so-called "romance scammers" -- criminals who scan online dating sites, chat rooms and social networking sites for potential victims.The victims reported collective losses of .4 million, which is likely only a fraction of the actual losses since many victims are too embarrassed to file a report, the FBI said.And many of the scammers aren't even in the United States."In the process of going back and forth, a scammer is going to try to figure out what makes a person tick, what their vulnerable spots are," said Jenny Shearer, an FBI spokeswoman.The sad truth is, for every real profile you see on the internet, there are numerous false ones pretending to be your perfect mate and using photographs stolen from modelling or social networking sites.The people in the photographs are as much victims as those who get scammed for hundreds or thousands dollars.Ben & Candy Carson, Christian Today, The Western Journal, BROTHER POSTS SISTER' S HOOK-UP LIST, Truck Daily, Washington Examiner, Tea Party Patriots, Ludwig von Mises, Freedom Works, Grateful Dead Archive, Matt Kibbe, Monarch Realty Associates Inc., Bill Moyers, christian-mingles.com, Country Music, Christian Quotes, Daterite Online Dating, Ok Cupid, Mate1, Peace Be With U, National Association for Gun Rights, Right Wing News, Cause I Like Big Rigs, Truck Drivers U. A, ATTN:, Credit Karma, Canadian Association of Journalists, Jim Flaherty, Chatham House, Stephen Taylor, Ontario PC Party, Carolyn Bennett, Irwin Cotler & the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, National Post, Tom Mulcair, Nelson Mandela, John Baird, Rona Ambrose, Canada Remembers, Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Conservative Party of Canada - Parti conservateur du Canada, David Cameron, Stephen Harper, Catalyst Athletics, SUPERHERO SCRAMBLE, Cross Fit, Barbells for Boobs, The Box Magazine, Robert Hollis, Savage Race, Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat - Official, SPARTAN RACE MEXICO, Spartan Race Czech Republic, Warrior Dash, The Cross Fit Games, Mud Run, Tough Mudder, Spartan, International Space Station, Lawrence M."I left my heart out there, and this guy took advantage of it," the 51-year old Best said.
A man calling himself "John" messaged her and through daily phone calls and messages on Facebook, he gained her trust.
CNNMoney's attempts to reach "John" on his international phone number provided by Best revealed that it was based out of Nigeria -- a hotbed for online scams -- and has since been disconnected. Victims are then prompted to pay to have their name removed from the site.
The FBI said there is no indication that the information was ever removed.
Don't get caught in a scam Some advice from experts at the Better Business Bureau and Internet Crime Complaint Center: Be on guard.
Be especially cautious with people you only know through online messages and phone calls. Many scammers use fake photos to lure their victims but video messaging is much harder to fake.
He spoke with what she thought was a British accent and his picture on Facebook portrayed a nice-looking man with graying hair and a beard.