Woman loses money in online love scam

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The surge in online dating also holds an important warning: Be weary of con artists and certainly be cautious before any money is exchanged.

"Initially, it started out as a friendship, he would tell me about himself, I would tell him about myself," explained Mary, who's talking about the online relationship with a man on a social networking site.  

He said he was stuck in Nigeria and asked Mary to help him by sending him money to fly home.

"It started out pretty small the money that he needed, and it just escalated," she said.

But there always seemed to be an excuse as to why he never returned and always needed more money.

"Initially, it was my own money – then I had to take out loans to help him. And it just snowballed from there," said Mary.

Since Mary was now out of money herself, her online connection had a new idea for how the could make some cash.  It started with fraudulent credit cards the suspect sent to Mary.

"She would then take these credit cards and make purchases here at local retail stores, take those fraudulent items to a pawn shop and get cash for that purchase," explained US Postal Inspector, Joshua Bergeron.

Mary then wired the money back to the suspect in Nigeria, sometimes thousands of dollars at a time.  The total came to more than $200,000.

"I had myself fooled thinking everything was okay," admitted Mary.

Postal Inspectors say scams like these are growing as online dating sites increase in popularity.  Con men prey on people seeking relationships or companionship and end up manipulating and robbing victims. 

"I guess I was very gullible and easily convinced and I'd been in such a bad situation myself that he promised me so much, that none of it has come true," said Mary.

She's now trying to rebuild.

"Right now, I work two jobs to try and get myself back on my feet. It's going to take quite a while; it's going to take a long time," she said.

Mary plead guilty for her role in this scam and says she will think twice before starting any relationship online.

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