(NBCNC) - We all now know how treacherous it can be to look for love online and all about the risks involved in digital romance...or do we?
"This kind of thing happens every day...happens all the time and it's easier to fall for than most people realize," warns NBCNews.com technology writer Bob Sullivan.
People are falling for it so much the U.S. Army just posted another nationwide alert, for single women in particular, about cyber-crooks posing as combat soldier overseas.
The crooks steal the identity, even photos, of real servicemen and eventually ask the unsuspecting victim to send money to ease the pain of war.
Sullivan says it's more pervasive these days because the scammers have gotten savvy.
"They try out a story on a victim, if victim doesn't fall for it, they adjust their story for victim 2, adjust for victim 3, and, by the time they get to you, their story is locked solid, and they know exactly what triggers to push," he warns.
Most of the 19,000 members of RomanceScams.org are victims who've lost at least $15-million to romancing scammers.
Sullivan says you can avoid the trap by establishing online relationships only with those who live nearby and asking early on for a face-to-face meeting.
"Make sure you do that in a public place and in a safe way, but don't have an extended relationship with someone when there's no prospect for you to see them in person," he advises.
Because in person it's easier to confirm someone is really who they say are online.