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The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent.And her pitch was straightforward: Looking for a life partner …The mainstreaming of online dating is a revolution in progress, one that's blurring the boundaries between "real" and online relationships.(AARP has joined this revolution, partnering with the online dating service How About We to launch AARP Dating in December 2012.) But the online-dating boom has also fueled an invisible epidemic.She had a website for her business, was on Facebook, carried a smartphone.But who knew exactly how these online dating services worked?And she was full of questions, about him and about online dating in general."It is kind of a strange way to meet people," she wrote, "but it's not as cold as hanging around the produce department at the Kroger's." She also mentioned the deception she'd already encountered on previous dates — "lots of false advertising or 'bait and switch' folks," she wrote.
She resolved to be pickier, only contacting men who were closely matched — 90 percent or more, as determined by the algorithm pulling the strings behind her online search. Back in college, she'd studied computer science and psychology, and she considered herself pretty tech-savvy. Two sharp blows that had left her alone in her late 50s. His cancer took him swiftly, before she had time to process what was happening. It had been over two years since the death of her husband of 20 years; four, since she had lost her mother.Duane suggested they both fill out questionnaires listing not only their favorite foods and hobbies but also personality quirks and financial status. An impostor poses as a suitor, lures the victim into a romance, then loots his or her finances.He also sent her a link to a song, pop star Marc Anthony's "I Need You." "It holds a message in it," he told her, "a message that delivers the exact way i feel for you." Amy clicked on the link to the song, a torrid ballad that ends with the singer begging his lover to marry him. In pre-digital times, romance scammers found their prey in the back pages of magazines, where fake personal ads snared vulnerable lonely hearts.