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Scammers can take advantage of vulnerable people looking for love. (CBC)

With Valentine's Day coming up, the Better Business Bureau is warning people about the pitfalls of online dating services.

The bureau fields hundreds of complaints about these services every year. Many stories involve scammers who trick vulnerable people into sending money.

"They'll say on the second email they're in love with you and they want to see you and so could you wire money to them so they can come to Canada," said Jill Atkinson, a spokeswoman for the bureau.

She said other scammers claim that a relative is ill and they need money to cover the hospital bills.

"Once you wire money it's gone. You can't get it back," Atkinson said.

Police say losing money is only one of the dangers of social networking sites, particularly dating websites.

"Any time you enter into a situation where you're literally meeting a stranger online you could be putting yourself at risk," said Det. Const. Dana Drover, one of the top investigators with the financial crime section of Halifax Regional Police.

Drover said people should look for signs that something is amiss. For example, scammers may refuse to meet or appear on a webcam.

"If they only will engage in text messaging or emailing, or maybe just send you a picture and they claim that's who they are, well that can be a bit of a red flag," he said.

The Better Business Bureau also receives complaints about the cost of these sites and unfulfilled promises of finding a date in a particular area.

Atkinson urges consumers to read the contract.

"You have to do your research first," she said.

"You may think you've signed up for a year when in fact they keep renewing it after that and you keep getting billed for something that you weren't expecting to be billed for because you thought the membership was over."