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It could take months or years of dedicated persuasion to pull off a single sting. Technology has streamlined communication, given scammers powerful new tools of deceit and opened up a vast pool of potential victims.
Web-based dating services first popped up in the mid-1990s and are now a billion industry.
She resolved to be pickier, only contacting men who were closely matched — 90 percent or more, as determined by the algorithm pulling the strings behind her online search. Back in college, she'd studied computer science and psychology, and she considered herself pretty tech-savvy.
She had a website for her business, was on Facebook, carried a smartphone.
"You certainly have a great sense of humor and a way with words," she responded.
And she was full of questions, about him and about online dating in general.
Duane wrote right back, a long message that sketched a peripatetic life — he described himself as a "computer systems analyst" from North Hollywood, California, who grew up in Manchester, England, and had lived in Virginia for only five months.
But much of the note consisted of flirty jokes ("If I could be bottled I would be called 'eau de enigma' ") and a detailed imaginary description of their first meeting: It's 11 am when we arrive at the restaurant for brunch.
Duane suggested they both fill out questionnaires listing not only their favorite foods and hobbies but also personality quirks and financial status. An impostor poses as a suitor, lures the victim into a romance, then loots his or her finances.But nothing clicked — either they weren't her type or they weren't exactly who they said they were.This seemed to be one of the problems with online dating. It had been over two years since the death of her husband of 20 years; four, since she had lost her mother.She filled out a questionnaire and carefully crafted her profile.