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They usually claim to have jobs that keep them outside the country for long periods of time, such as working on an oil rig, serving in the military, or working for a nonprofit.

Next, they seek out victims – usually people who are lonely and vulnerable – and work to build up relationships with them.

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reported in 2016 on a woman who was sentenced to two years in prison for writing scripts for romance scams, including one in which the scammer claimed to be a widow whose husband was killed in the 9/11 attacks. Often they’ll start out by asking for a small amount, such as a few extra dollars for a child’s birthday present.

Once they know the victim is hooked, they pretend to go through some kind of crisis that requires a large amount of cash to fix, such as a robbery, a medical or legal problem, a frozen bank account, or a business opportunity.

Some of the most successful scammers have extracted tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars from a single victim. Barb Sluppik, who runs the watchdog site Romance Scams.org, says in an interview with Consumer Reports that she’s worked with “men and women of all ages – doctors and lawyers, CEOs of companies, people from the entertainment industry – who you’d never think in a million years would fall for these scams but do.” Even celebrities aren’t immune, as the world learned in 2012 when Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o discovered he’d spent two years in an online relationship with a woman who never existed.

However, some people are more likely to be targeted than others. Jones, had not only his image but his entire identity stolen by scammers.

Romance scammers work by setting up fake profiles on dating sites and social media.

Sometimes, they use fake names and stock photos; in other cases, they steal real people’s names, images, and personal information.

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Instead, the scammer continues to string the victim along with more requests for money, sometimes keeping up the fraud for years.

Scammers’ favorite victims are: The people who fall for romance scams aren’t the only victims. soldiers are particularly likely to be targeted, since being deployed overseas gives scammers a good excuse for not being able to meet their love interests in person. For several years, he’s been receiving angry e-mails, Facebook messages, and sometimes even personal visits from women who claim he broke their hearts and took their money.

Scammers can also cause a lot of trouble for the people – usually men – whose images they steal to create their fake identities. Also, the image of a strong soldier protecting his country tends to appeal to women seeking love online. Many of them refuse to believe he isn’t the man they fell in love with and have begged him to continue a relationship that never existed.

Her whole relationship with Eric was a scheme to get money out of her.

This story is fictional, but the scenario is all too real.

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