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They can also claim they're caring for an elderly parent.

Often, either in the profile or in one of the first messages they'll send, they'll mention they are 'working' in a foreign country.

DALLAS -- Why would a woman publicly share her most devastating dating experience?

Because Emily Thompson doesn’t want you to live her nightmare."I feel like a fairly intelligent woman and it’s hard to find myself in this situation," she told us from her Dallas home.

His picture looks like he's a nice guy, and he's so cute. While many couples meet, date and even marry through online sites, not all online encounters lead to wedded bliss, and some can lead to financial or emotional disaster.

She's really young and sexy, and she said she wanted to meet you. Sadly, these con artists don't wear signs telling you to beware and run the other direction.

In mid December the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—pled guilty to conning tens of millions of dollars from Americans via online dating sites.

While the case was remarkable for its magnitude, when it comes to so-called “romance scams,” it still represents just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2015, the last year for which data is available, consumers lost more than 0 million this way.The best way to spot con artists through their profiles is to scrutinize the content.Here are some things to watch for: Men targeting women: It's not unusual for these men to claim to be widowed, and frequently they will claim to have one young child (a son about eight years old seems to be common, for some reason, but it can be any age).(It is estimated that only 15 percent of fraud victims report their losses to law enforcement, so the real numbers are probably higher.) As one result, fear of a horrible first date is just one of the things a would-be online dater has to worry about. “Most people think the victims are middle-aged women who can't get a date, but I have worked with men and women of all ages—doctors and lawyers, CEOs of companies, people from the entertainment industry—who you’d never think in a million years would fall for these scams but do,” says Barb Sluppick, who runs romancescams.org, a watchdog site and online support group.According to the Consumer Reports 2016 Online Dating Survey of more than 114,000 subscribers, among the respondents who were considering online dating but were hesitant, 46 percent said they were concerned about being scammed. “Typically the scammer builds trust by writing long letters over weeks or months and crafting a whole persona for their victims,” says Unit Chief David Farquhar from the Financial Crimes Section of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) who specializes in cyber-related crimes.

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