Widow says she was scammed by dating website con artist

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WOODBURY -

A widow says she was scammed out of thousands of dollars by a con artist who was preying on dating website users.

The woman, who didn't want to be identified or shown on camera, says she feels humiliated but wants to warn others.

She thought she was falling in love with the man of her dreams on the dating website Mingle 2. But after romancing her online and making up an elaborate scheme, he asked her to wire him money.

"They manipulate your brain," the woman says. "'Can you send me more money, can you send me more money?'"

Experts say these type of online dating scams are common, and private investigators like Don Longo have recently seen an uptick.

So how can online daters protect themselves? Red flags can include someone from out of state wanting to date, someone asking for money early on, and age discrepancy.

"If you're 50 and you get a message from a 24-year-old supermodel from L.A., do I really think this is a real message or person?" says Longo.

He adds that when you do meet someone online, it’s important to do some homework. Ask them questions that can be verified online and ask a professional to run a background check. Longo says it may take some of the romance out of it, but it can save you money in the long run.

It's advice that the widow says she learned the hard way.

"I take full responsibility, and I'm moving on," she says.

If you are scammed, you should report the dating profile to the dating website. You can also report it to the FBI and file a claim at the agency's crime complaint center.

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