Web of Lies - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Web of Lies

(WFLX) - "He wants to spend the rest of his life with me": But that would be far from the truth.  

It was a scam all along on a popular dating Web site. "I'm going to call them sociopaths out there," said psychologist Dr. B. Hibb.

They are people who have little or no regard for anyone else's feelings, and Dr. Hibb says as online dating grows, so does the danger of running into one. "Very few, very, very few people have met sociopaths."

But a woman, we spoke with, apparently did. "I was devastated. I lost a lot of weight."

She turned to Match.com looking for love. Now, she's too embarrassed to identify herself publicly. "I thought, I found my prince charming."

Instead, a predator found her. She says he swooned her with his voice and e-mails almost daily. "I miss you so much, sweetie," he said in a voicemail.

Within weeks, he got her to send him thousands of dollars and even nude pictures of herself.

But why would she do that for a man she never met in person? "Sociopaths are very convincing. They're experts at getting people to trust them."

The FBI says even they are surprised by how good some sociopaths are.

In fact, the number of people scammed through online dating is growing, and the biggest targets are women over 50. "Older women are typically preyed upon on these kinds of scams predominantly women, predominantly older women," said Brian Herrick with the FBI.

The feds say they're not sure why, but Dr. Hibb has a theory. "They begin to fall in love with what I'm going to say is an imaginary person because they construct a person they want to be in love with."

Dr. Hibb says love triggers a chemical in the brain that can be overwhelming. "There is a kind of a basic brain chemistry that makes the world go around that falling in love happens, that you do become more trusting of the other person."

If you are suspicious, we found two Web sites that claim to help: romancescams.org and romancescams.com. Both claim to unmask fake photos on a dating Web site.

They say they post the innocent person's picture on the left, and the con artist's on the right.

But Dr. Hibb says what you really need to do is not let your emotions run away with you. "I would be limit your e-mail or phone contact until you can meet the other person. Find out about their relationship history."

We contacted match.com for comment.

They told us:

"Providing for the safety of our members is critical. Each member profile and photo is reviewed by one of our customer care agents. Safety tips, encouraging our members to be vigilant of scammers are accessible on all match.com pages."

They also say "be cautious of scammers" and never "wire money transfers to anyone". "I thought I had a good man to be with the rest of my life."

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