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It started with a flirtatious Myspace message from a dark-haired beauty with smoldering eyes and olive skin; it ended with him ,000 poorer and nearly losing the roof over his head.
Now he's a peer counselor at Romance Scams.org, a six-year-old support group that has over 17,000 current active members and claims to have counseled some 50,000 people who believed themselves to be victims.
Many of the scammers are based in Nigeria, home of the infamous 419 email scam -- love fraud is a much savvier twist on that old formula.
"Once they have all that information, they create a character that is specific to you and your desires," Rob says.
"In short, they create your dream mate, and they're very good at what they do, unfortunately." Fraudsters groom the victim by having long, intimate conversations with them online, by phone and text message.
I sent an email to a member of a Yahoo support group and got the following response: "Sorry I cant help you the people at the site say you are just another scammer." I revisited the online support group and discovered that a debate was underway over whether I was genuine.
He's a victim of what's called "love fraud." The looker in the photos was actually porn star Raven Riley.
Then he got a request for yet more money, an unexpected declaration fee.