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But much of the note consisted of flirty jokes ("If I could be bottled I would be called 'eau de enigma' ") and a detailed imaginary description of their first meeting: It's 11 am when we arrive at the restaurant for brunch.The restaurant is a white painted weatherboard, simple but well-kept, set on the edge of a lake, separated from it by an expansive deck, dotted (not packed) with tables and comfortable chairs….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.And she was full of questions, about him and about online dating in general."It is kind of a strange way to meet people," she wrote, "but it's not as cold as hanging around the produce department at the Kroger's." She also mentioned the deception she'd already encountered on previous dates — "lots of false advertising or 'bait and switch' folks," she wrote.Web-based dating services first popped up in the mid-1990s and are now a billion industry.As of December 2013, 1 in 10 American adults had used services such as Match.com, Plenty of Fish and e Harmony.

But nothing clicked—either they weren't her type or they weren't exactly who they said they were.She filled out a questionnaire and carefully crafted her profile.It would have been easy to burnish the truth, but she presented herself honestly, from her age (57) and hobbies ("dancing, rock collecting") to her financial status ("self sufficient").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.

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*Names have been changed to protect identities A short message sent on a Thursday evening in early December 2013, under the subject line: Match? She signed up for a six-month subscription to Match.com, the largest and one of the oldest dating services on the Web.

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