Internet romance scams - hold your wallet Internet romance scams have become a multimillion-dollar business, and Californians are the most victimized people in the nation, said Kim Garner, vice president of global security and investigations for the money transfer company and a former Secret Service agent. In 2011, people were bilked out of $50 million - the average victim losing nearly $9,000 - in romance scams, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a task force made up of the FBI and the national White-Collar Crime Center. In 2010, MoneyGram started a fraud-detection system that flags money transfers fitting a criminal trend, or that fall under a suspicious profile, before wiring the cash, Garner said. Oftentimes the initial contact is made during Christmas, and once a relationship is established, the thief ramps up his or her scam and starts asking for money. The other one we see is the person who poses as a gemologist and has all his or her money wrapped up in gems and needs a loan to pay customs, or to come for a visit. What are some of the clues people should look for to know that a potential love interest might actually be a crook? [...] when the online conversations are filled with spelling and grammatical errors, the victim should question who's on the other end. Another red flag is when the person has excuses why he or she can't ever talk on the phone, or won't provide contact information, or has a photo that doesn't match information the person has already given about him or herself. [...] when the victim balks at sending money, the scammer threatens to expose the photo on the Internet, or send it to relatives.