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10-Apr-2020 13:14

Amy was charmed — Duane was nothing like the local men she'd met so far."You certainly have a great sense of humor and a way with words," she responded.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.He also sent her a link to a song, pop star Marc Anthony's "I Need You." "It holds a message in it," he told her, "a message that delivers the exact way i feel for you." Amy clicked on the link to the song, a torrid ballad that ends with the singer begging his lover to marry him. In pre-digital times, romance scammers found their prey in the back pages of magazines, where fake personal ads snared vulnerable lonely hearts.The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent.And her pitch was straightforward: Looking for a life partner …She had a website for her business, was on Facebook, carried a smartphone.

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.

Now she was all by herself in a house secluded at the end of a long gravel driveway. At first, she just tiptoed around the many dating sites, window-shopping in this peculiar new marketplace. It wasn't until the fall that Amy was ready to dive in.

Later, when she puzzled over their relationship, she'd remember this. That had been a fateful move; it made everything easier for him. After the funeral, a grief counselor told her to make no sudden changes in her life for at least a year, and she followed that advice.

"It is amazing what people will do without conscience.

I think it is always best to be whom we are and not mislead others." By December 17, they had exchanged eight more emails.

Two sharp blows that had left her alone in her late 50s. His cancer took him swiftly, before she had time to process what was happening.