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"It is amazing what people will do without conscience.I think it is always best to be whom we are and not mislead others." By December 17, they had exchanged eight more emails.But as financial crimes go, the love con was a rare breed, too time- and labor-intensive to carry out in large numbers.It could take months or years of dedicated persuasion to pull off a single sting. Technology has streamlined communication, given scammers powerful new tools of deceit and opened up a vast pool of potential victims.The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent.And her pitch was straightforward: Looking for a life partner …Duane suggested they both fill out questionnaires listing not only their favorite foods and hobbies but also personality quirks and financial status. An impostor poses as a suitor, lures the victim into a romance, then loots his or her finances.He also sent her a link to a song, pop star Marc Anthony's "I Need You." "It holds a message in it," he told her, "a message that delivers the exact way i feel for you." Amy clicked on the link to the song, a torrid ballad that ends with the singer begging his lover to marry him. In pre-digital times, romance scammers found their prey in the back pages of magazines, where fake personal ads snared vulnerable lonely hearts.
Later, when she puzzled over their relationship, she'd remember this. That had been a fateful move; it made everything easier for him. After the funeral, a grief counselor told her to make no sudden changes in her life for at least a year, and she followed that advice.
Amy was charmed — Duane was nothing like the local men she'd met so far.
"You certainly have a great sense of humor and a way with words," she responded.
Web-based dating services first popped up in the mid-1990s and are now a billion industry.
As of December 2013, 1 in 10 American adults had used services such as Match.com, Plenty of Fish and e Harmony.