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It is a 'romance' between people who never meet, based purely on text messages, internet liaisons and phone calls.
Yet victims all too often are willing to give away thousands of dollars and risk facilitating a crime.
I spoke to a victim last week who was five years beyond the death of her husband and she said the scammer was so incredibly supportive, and that's what she fell in love with."She felt this nourishment.
"We speak to them all the time — it's definitely not stupidity."Ms Malet-Warden said to prompt someone to fall in love with a scammer, the victim was first "seeded" with an idea.
When we speak to victims they say they've been connected, prolifically in the initial stages, using extremely validating language and we are all suckers for it," she said."Being told how much they are loved, how wonderful they are …
they use that sort of validating language and the prolific nature of it, regular text messages not just through the day, but through the night."The victim is then expecting those validating messages to come through.
Most often, the person looking for love online gets a message with a photo of a single man or woman who is super attractive. Then the scammer plays into your insecurities or loneliness, or immediately flatters you heavily with words of affection when he doesn't even know you yet.
"Typically, the scammer builds trust by writing long letters over weeks or months and crafting a whole persona for their victims," says David Farquhar, Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI.Without vetting the source to whom you are giving, you could get scammed out your savings.