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Before forwarding the complaints to the appropriate agencies, IC3 collates and analyzes the data—looking for common threads that could link complaints together and help identify the culprits. Here are some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of an online dating scam.

Internet services and websites make it easy for us to pay bills, shop, make online reservations and even work. Criminal minds can reach these days further than before, into our private lives, our homes and work offices. Attack methods and tools vary from traditional attack vectors, which use malicious software and vulnerabilities present in almost all the programs and apps (even in the popular Windows operating systems), to ingenious phishing scams deployed from unexpected regions of the world, where justice can’t easily reach out to catch the eventual perpetrators.

The profiles were fake as well, carefully crafted to match your interests.

In addition to losing your money to someone who had no intention of ever visiting you, you may also have unknowingly taken part in a money laundering scheme by cashing phony checks and sending the money overseas and by shipping stolen merchandise (the forwarded package).

Other times, a rogue antispyware scanner may be installed by exploit, a so-called 'drive-by install.' Regardless of how the rogue software gets installed, the user is often left with a hijacked, crippled system.