By then, Morrison knew she was dealing with a scammer.
"The story was getting more and more bizarre," she says.
Budgyk knows this from experience: A Nigerian scammer lifted photos from Budgyk's profile. Their photographs are also likely of someone else, and that would be tough to explain in person. He sent heart-wrenching photos of a young girl, who appeared to be his daughter's age, hooked to a raft of medical monitors.
He found out when he discovered his photos were on a romance scam site warning about the same Nigerian crook who had stolen his photos. If a profile indicates your match has a college degree, but he or she can't string a sentence together, you have reason to be suspicious. Commonly, when the victim proposes an in-person meeting, they'll come up with some excuse for why it can't happen: They're traveling, stationed overseas or have some long-distance emergency. Uncertain of whether she should believe the man, Kipps Googled "photos of sick children." And of course, the photographs she'd been getting via text message were public images posted online.
"When some 25-year-old girl is telling you that she's in love with you, you have to wonder why," he says. If a 25-year-old model is contacting a 50-year-old man, there's something wrong." Scammers look for vulnerable populations -- women and men in their 50s and 60s who are divorced or widowed and may feel rejected or past their prime.
"You see this communication and think, 'Oh my gosh, I must be more attractive than I thought! They're also likely to target people with weight problems and those recovering from illnesses. Any of these issues might make you a bit more anxious about your ability to find love and potentially more receptive to the con.
The crook will then lavish you with attention and flattery.
" Moving off-site before launching a scam reduces the chance that you'll report the crook to the relevant site.
That's important to the con artist, who'll want to troll the site again for future victims when done with you.