With Valentine's day right around the corner, FBI Cleveland is reminding the public to remain aware when engaging in online relationships.

They also warn about the hidden dangers when striking up a relationship with someone they haven't met in real life. 

The rate of romance scams, also known as confidence scams, continues to rise. These scams typically happen when a criminal creates a fake profile on a dating site or other social media platform. 

The scammer tricks victims into believing they are in a loving and trusting relationship with the fake online persona. Scammers will then often make up stories of financial hardship to trick people into sending them money, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or other items of value.

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center's most recent numbers show 19,000 complaints concerning confidence and romance scams. The reported losses from these scams are at least $739 million.

Scammers often target women over 40 who are divorced, widowed, elderly, or disabled. Romance scams usually start innocently, and slowly build from there. Scammers commonly use well rehearsed scripts that have worked in the past on new victims.

Criminals actively search dating websites, apps, chat rooms, and other forms of social media in their goal of scamming others.

FBI Cleveland encourages people to do their due diligence about the person they are talking to online, just like you would with someone in real life. Romance scammers are known to steal the identity of others and use other people's photos in their scams.

The FBI warns people against sharing to much personal information online, and not to send money to anyone you don't know.

If you think that your online relationship is a scam, call 1-800-CALL-FBI to file a report. You can also visit ic3.gov to submit a tip. Contact your financial insitution if you've already sent someone money.