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The victims reported collective losses of .4 million, which is likely only a fraction of the actual losses since many victims are too embarrassed to file a report, the FBI said.About 70% of the victims were female; more than half were women 40 years or older.A man calling himself "John" messaged her and through daily phone calls and messages on Facebook, he gained her trust.He spoke with what she thought was a British accent and his picture on Facebook portrayed a nice-looking man with graying hair and a beard.In a typical con, the perpetrator will spend weeks or even months building up a romantic relationship with a victim through e-mails, texts or phone calls, before eventually asking for money.
In July, "John" told her that he was traveling to the United Kingdom to buy antiques for his store.
Then one day he called saying he went to Nigeria to buy more, but he was stuck -- he asked her for ,000 cash to get his purchases back to the States.
"In the process of going back and forth, a scammer is going to try to figure out what makes a person tick, what their vulnerable spots are," said Jenny Shearer, an FBI spokeswoman.
"Because a victim has legitimate feelings, they might be inclined to offer financial support for this person." For Best, it all started when she signed up for a free online dating site called mingle2.
"I left my heart out there, and this guy took advantage of it," the 51-year old Best said.
In 2011, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received 5,600 complaints from victims of so-called "romance scammers" -- criminals who scan online dating sites, chat rooms and social networking sites for potential victims.