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19-Feb-2017 08:35

“He said he had a son who was 13, and that his wife had been killed in a car accident, and his wife’s friend was looking after the boy while he was deployed.” In reality, the man of her dreams was a native of Ghana who’d never been in the United States or Iraq.

He was armed, however, with all the personal information Martin had provided about herself when signing up.

She signed up with online-dating service Mate1and created a profile stating she was looking for “a good friend, companion and soulmate.” Here’s what Martin didn’t realize: By signing up to meet her “soulmate,” she added her personal information to the kind of database increasingly used by domestic and international con artists.After her 25-year marriage ended, Patricia Martin* was determined she wouldn’t spend her life alone.A mother of three who worked odd hours, she thought Internet dating would be a perfect fit.(Indeed, military men are common covers for scammers.) Drawing on these details, the Ghanaian con artist spent a year winning Martin’s confidence via email. “We refer to it as the ‘romance pitch,’” he says, adding that scammers trawl dating sites, make up a fake name and swipe a picture from the thousands available on the Internet.

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“Unfortunately, the victim falls in love with a name, a picture and a fairy tale.” At any given moment, more than one billion people are on the Internet. No surprise that the online-dating industry currently boasts over 1,500 sites.

In the woman's case, a man contacted her on the site over several months and passed himself off as a civil engineer working in China. Gary O'Brien said the man told the victim he planned to marry her but needed money to fund his various projects.