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21-Sep-2016 13:14

“You never think you can become a victim until it happens to you,” Meade said.

“But, with as many people as there are online, the Internet is ripe with people these scam men can sucker into their scheme.”Each year, thousands of men and women use the online chat forums and messaging apps to meet potential dates and perhaps, potential spouses.

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So, I did what I would have done for any man I was invested in like that.

I gave him the money.”After transferring ,000 to Walter’s bank account from her own savings account, Meade says her chats with the man became less frequent, and finally, stopped altogether.“I was taken for a fool,” Meade said, “and I was heartbroken.”The Nigerian Scam Moves to Messaging But, while Walter had fallen on hard times, a Nigerian man thousands of miles away was making a killing as part of an operation of scammers who target men and women into romantic relationships only to leave them high and dry.

But, the only thing that ran away from the 36-year-old single mother’s life of hardship would eventually be all her savings and the security she had entrusted with “Walter.”Meade, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, was one of millions of people who flock to the Internet each year in search of romance and a long term relationship."In the process of going back and forth, a scammer is going to try to figure out what makes a person tick, what their vulnerable spots are," said Jenny Shearer, an FBI spokeswoman."Because a victim has legitimate feelings, they might be inclined to offer financial support for this person." For Best, it all started when she signed up for a free online dating site called mingle2.Messenger from October 2006 through February 2007, Walter, a self-described white collar engineer and college sports enthusiast, ended up taking the spellbound Meade for the ride of her life.“We were going to get married,” she recalls, fighting back tears.

“But, then, he told me he had lost his job, was laid off, and that he was in need.A man calling himself "John" messaged her and through daily phone calls and messages on Facebook, he gained her trust.