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People familiar with romance frauds say that it’s generally not one person running a scam — so someone like “Dave” was probably several different people.

(“When we hear consumers say, ‘he’ or ‘she,’ we say it’s not a man. “It’s a dozen people working the keyboard.”)Many romance frauds end before the losses run as high as Ellen says hers was, but that doesn’t mean they are less significant, and not just in financial terms.

One of the first things Rogers does when counselling someone who’s worried about their online lover is to have them trace the IP address their alleged beloved is writing from.

This lets them check that their boyfriend or girlfriend’s computer really is where they say it is.

“They want to know who you’re looking for because that’s who they become.”Then comes the ask.

“When you find out the person you’ve been talking to is a scam, it’s really the same thing as having a death in the family, except this is fraud,” says Rob Rogers, a moderator at the site, and himself the one-time victim of a con.

She was single, her kids were grown and had lives of their own. “I don’t like the idea of not being able to help somebody if I can.”Emails from “Dave” to Ellen, which she provided to the Star, use endearments like “baby,” “honey” and “sweetheart,” and end with “hugs, kisses and love.” Ellen says she wasn’t head-over-heels for him — which would make her different from many other victims of romance scams — and by the end of the con, she just wanted her money back.

So Ellen — who agreed to speak to the Star only on condition of anonymity — says she signed up to So Ellen approached the idea of meeting up, and “Dave” seemed keen. She says she tried to send the first sum of 5 via Western Union, but the employee refused: “She said to me, ‘Do you know this person? I’m not sending it.’ ”Ellen found another way: by Money Gram.

Romance frauds are the most lucrative scam in Canada.

Over the past four years, Canadians have reported losses of almost million to authorities.

How could a mature, self-sufficient woman send such a huge sum of money to someone she never even met?

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