Five years ago, an Austrian woman decided to give online dating a try.
(She asked that I only use her internet handle, Firefly, for reasons that will soon become clear.) It had been about a year since Firefly got divorced.
By fabricating an illusion of their own wealth, scammers may be able to convince you that you're simply "loaning" them money that, for some weird reason, they can't immediately access.
Where do the scammers get photos of themselves in these exotic locations and with these costly products? They troll other sites and steal other people's photos. Many are operating out of foreign countries, despite profiles saying they live nearby. When she declined, the messages got more desperate.
By then, Morrison knew she was dealing with a scammer.
"The story was getting more and more bizarre," she says.
Do your fellow legitimate members a favor and be sure to report abusers. Budgyk, 56, doesn't suffer for a lack of confidence, but he also knows something is amiss when a model half his age just can't get enough of him.
"When some 25-year-old girl is telling you that she's in love with you, you have to wonder why," he says. If a 25-year-old model is contacting a 50-year-old man, there's something wrong." Scammers look for vulnerable populations -- women and men in their 50s and 60s who are divorced or widowed and may feel rejected or past their prime.
Beth Kipps, who has experimented with several dating sites, says the men who have attempted to con her almost always have a reason why they shouldn't continue to communicate via or e Harmony.
"But I hung on and kept communicating because I wanted to see the end of the movie." The ending came as no surprise to experts on romance scams.
Morrison's erstwhile Romeo claimed he needed her to "lend" him ,000 to deal with one of the many crises he had fabricated.
"I probably hear from five scammers a night," says Marko Budgyk, a Los Angeles financier who has frequented several online dating sites over the past 10 years.
"After a while, it becomes really easy to spot them." Here are six red flags to help detect and sidestep romance scams.