Turns out you can put a price on love.

According to the FBI, victims of romance scams lost over $600 million last year. So how can you tell the difference between dating and defrauding, and what can you do to protect yourself? We’re here to help. As friends, of course.

Speed Dating vs. Too Speedy Dating

Relationships take time to progress. They don’t go from, “Nice to meet you” to “Add me to your financial accounts” in a matter of weeks. If someone is moving too fast or you feel pressured, it should raise some red flags. At the very least, you’ve got to ask yourself if you really want to be in a relationship with someone who’s so desperate for your money.

Some Other Warning Signs

In addition to wanting to be added to your financial accounts, scammers will often ask you for money. Some common “reasons” are

  • They say they’re traveling abroad
  • They’re working on an oil rig
  • They’re working with an international organization
  • Their wicked stepmother has locked them in a tower (okay, that one’s a little obvious.)

Alarm bells should ring if they ask you for money to pay for surgery, pay off gambling debts, help secure a visa or for customs fees. And alarm bells should be screaming if they ask you to wire them money or reload debit or gift cards from vendors like Amazon or iTunes.

Bottom line, when it comes to online relationships, play hard-to-get when it comes to your money—especially if it’s someone you’ve never met in person. Trusting your gut, not your heart is the best way to avoid the heartbreak of ending up broke.