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The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent.And her pitch was straightforward: Looking for a life partner … 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.

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According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), complaints about impostor ploys such as the romance scam more than doubled between 20.

The FBI says that Americans lost some $82 million to online-dating fraud in just the last six months of 2014.

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.

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.

She had a website for her business, was on Facebook, carried a smartphone.

But who knew exactly how these online dating services worked?

Web-based dating services first popped up in the mid-1990s and are now a billion industry.

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