LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A new report finds romance may do more than break your heart. 

It could leave you with an empty wallet.

A study from the Better Business Bureau study found more than 1 million Americans have become victims. Many scammers use online dating sites, social media, email or a simple phone call. They often build a relationship and then start asking for small amounts of money.

Bruce Gadansky, Chief Operating Officer with the BBB office in Louisville, said the report shows the problem is bigger than many thought.

“The estimate from the investigation team is that over the last three years, $1 billion has been stolen on these romance scams,” Gadansky said. “They’ll say ‘Well, I’m trying to get my family to the United States,' 'I’m trying to expand my business,’ or ‘I really love you, and I want to come and meet you and maybe we can get married.’”

The study says one company that reviews online dating profiles finds 500,000 fake profiles out of the 3.5 million it reviews every month.

Scammers hit one Louisville victim especially hard.

“A couple of years back, a lady went through $80,000," Gadansky said. "Thinking that she was talking to someone who was romantically interested in her, and she was 85 years old, and he knew that and he played her for everything that he could."

The report says many victims are embarrassed and never report the crime.

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