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If the victim doesn't figure out the con after the first request for cash, the crook will keep milking the relationship for as much as he or she can get.When the victim gets wise, the con artist gets scarce. But the increasing popularity of online dating gives them the perfect conditions to proliferate."You see this communication and think, 'Oh my gosh, I must be more attractive than I thought! They're also likely to target people with weight problems and those recovering from illnesses. Any of these issues might make you a bit more anxious about your ability to find love and potentially more receptive to the con.

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" Moving off-site before launching a scam reduces the chance that you'll report the crook to the relevant site.

That's important to the con artist, who'll want to troll the site again for future victims when done with you.

Budgyk knows this from experience: A Nigerian scammer lifted photos from Budgyk's profile. Their photographs are also likely of someone else, and that would be tough to explain in person. He sent heart-wrenching photos of a young girl, who appeared to be his daughter's age, hooked to a raft of medical monitors.

He found out when he discovered his photos were on a romance scam site warning about the same Nigerian crook who had stolen his photos. If a profile indicates your match has a college degree, but he or she can't string a sentence together, you have reason to be suspicious. Commonly, when the victim proposes an in-person meeting, they'll come up with some excuse for why it can't happen: They're traveling, stationed overseas or have some long-distance emergency. Uncertain of whether she should believe the man, Kipps Googled "photos of sick children." And of course, the photographs she'd been getting via text message were public images posted online.

"I probably hear from five scammers a night," says Marko Budgyk, a Los Angeles financier who has frequented several online dating sites over the past 10 years.

"After a while, it becomes really easy to spot them." Here are six red flags to help detect and sidestep romance scams."He said he was going to pay me back double," she laughs.Though the amounts and details of the scam vary from victim to victim, when it comes to romance scams, the con is almost always the same: The crook wants to get a besotted victim to wire money or provide access to a credit card.Most commonly, the excuse is "My membership on this site is almost up.How about if we text or communicate though our personal phone/email?"But I hung on and kept communicating because I wanted to see the end of the movie." The ending came as no surprise to experts on romance scams.

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