First he said his laptop broke and asked Joanna to ship a new one.
Then he needed money to get materials for his job out of customs.
Romance scams cost nearly 5,900 victims more than .7 million last year, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
And state and federal agencies have shut down several large romance scams in recent months, including a case in which two South Africans and a Canadian were extradited to the U. on charges of bilking hundreds of Americans of millions of dollars through romance scams and other financial fraud schemes.
That’s particularly true if they’ve been through difficult circumstances, such as divorce, losing a job, serious illness and other major losses, says Doug Shadel, a fraud researcher and director of AARP Washington.
Barb Sluppick, founder of the online support group Romancescams.org, which has 20,000 active members, said that one of the hardest things for victims to understand “is that there’s no justice in these scams." “Money that is sent, the money is gone,” she said.Today Joanna advises others to do their research on potential dates, but most importantly to pay attention to their gut instincts. Because once they forge a bond with you — which can happen surprisingly fast — it can be very hard to break free.Discontinuing contact may sound “obvious and simple, but it isn’t always because they’ve fallen in love with this person,” the AARP’s Shadel said.A car accident was followed by other emergencies that prevented him from coming home — and led to requests for more cash.The spell finally broke when Joanna demanded that John show his face on a webcam.