Online dating and romance scams

Five years ago, an Austrian woman decided to give online dating a try.

(She asked that I only use her internet handle, Firefly, for reasons that will soon become clear.) It had been about a year since Firefly got divorced.

One of the most common techniques is to build up trust with the person by messaging for weeks or even months before suddenly having an emergency - the fake person being mugged but their daughter needing urgent surgery, for example - and asking for money.

But then they suddenly need money for rent too, then food, then medical fees, and it can quickly escalate.

You can be anywhere in the world and victimize people,” she said.

A recent study indicates that up to 10 percent of Americans use online dating websites or mobile applications.

As the number of people looking to meet new people online grows, so does the opportunity for fraud.

“He was saying all the right things,” she remembered. It’s called a romance scam, and this devastating Internet crime is on the rise.

The woman, in her 50s and struggling in her marriage, was happy to find someone to chat with. He was very positive, and I felt like there was a real connection there.”That connection would end up costing the woman million and an untold amount of heartache after the man she fell in love with—whom she never met in person—took her for every cent she had.

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