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Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact.

They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction.

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“When someone is using a computer to hide behind, the hardest thing to find out is who they are.

We can find out where in the world their computer is being used.

However sooner or later, the vulnerable hearts receive requests that will ultimately lead to financial losses and heartbreak.

The scammers choose chat rooms and dating sites because the person in love offers the chance of the biggest payoffs.

But Charlie is still at large, presumably in Nigeria, and there may be little hope of bringing him to justice.

“This is a very difficult crime to prove,” Beining said.

“And once a victim becomes a victim, in that they send money, they will often be placed on what’s called a ‘sucker list,’ ” she said.

“Their names and identities are shared with other criminals, and they may be targeted in the future.”To stay safe online, be careful what you post, because scammers can use that information against you.

But with an Internet crime like this, it’s much more difficult.”As for the Texas woman, she came forward “because I don’t want this to happen to anybody else.

I not only invested money in this man but there is a big, huge piece of my heart that I invested in him,” she said.

Always use reputable websites, but assume that con artists are trolling even the most reputable dating and social media sites.