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"The story was getting more and more bizarre," she says.

"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.

Though the amounts and details of the scam vary from victim to victim, when it comes to romance scams, the con is almost always the same: The crook wants to get a besotted victim to wire money or provide access to a credit card.

If the victim doesn't figure out the con after the first request for cash, the crook will keep milking the relationship for as much as he or she can get.

Geographical mismatches are also bad signs, such as someone claiming to be in Brooklyn when their IP address points to the other side of the planet.

Scamalytics also keeps track of the most popular pick-up lines used by online dating scammers.

An exotic stranger needs help, and you’re the only one able to provide it.

On any given day, a handful of those pleas still file into your email’s spam folder.

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“We then take the learnings from that academic exercise, and try to scale them up into a production environment that works at enormous speed.”Some of those indicators are proprietary, but a few are fairly obvious.If one bot network pushes out the same garbled phrase to millions of profiles, it can quickly skew the pick-up line popularity contest.These bots aren’t necessarily looking for love, or even for a direct cash transfer; they’re often simply trying to convince their marks to install something, like an app, in a case of direct marketing gone gross.“In some ways the target isn’t really the victim of anything other than having their time wasted, and installing a game that they don’t necessarily want,” says Winchester of these bot-based shakedowns.When Boko Haram kidnapped a group of school girls last spring, Winchester said, dating profile fakers would claim to be there abroad as part of a US special forces mission.In reality, they were Nigerian con artists, hoping to be sent money to pay for a flight they would never take.“The sad reality is that the most effective scammers will tend to be the human beings who build trusting relationships over a long period of time with their targets,” says Winchester.And if you replace “collect an inheritance” with “find true love,” they’re an increasing menace for dating apps and services. But they are an increasingly important front for criminals, who in turn use increasingly sophisticated methods to snare their marks, and take them for whatever they can.

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