Last night I came across a Fort Collins friend's Facebook post detailing an online dating scam her mother fell victim to - the story is absolutely heartbreaking. The post reads as follows:

This is going to be a long one folks: I recently helped my mom integrate into the facebook/social media world, to which she navigated (with a multitude of hurdles; relentlessly) She discovered a senior dating website and subscribed. Since my parents split nearly 19 years ago, I haven't seen her have much interest in dating, especially not online. Long story short she met a guy and was immediately swept off of her feet with their hour long phone call exchanges, romantic emails, and what seemed sincere investment and interest in a relationship.

He said he was widowed from his previous wife he lost to brain cancer (my mom being a cancer survivor - they bonded over this) She shared pictures of her dogs, of me, and of her as a baby with him.

My family is far from gullible, but we are honest, and our clan sees the best in everyone, always finding the integrity. "Fred" portrayed himself as a successful entrepreneur who laid piping for crude oil overseas, (fake website, LinkedIns, and company profiles) so when they found themselves talking, he was on a business trip that kept getting extended.

Longer story shorter - this morning - the love affair ended when he bluntly asked for $5,000 to supplement the rest of his project through an ELABORATE scheme of lies.

This was after a good three weeks of my moms emotional investment. Once she hit a point of caring about him so deeply that she could be willing to send him money. Luckily she's much smarter than that. This guy was all I heard about for weeks...

I spent the better half of the evening researching individuals who scheme off single individuals through dating websites, typically preying to the populations that are stereo-typically speaking the "loneliest." I am DISGUSTED with the long list of people this has happened to, and the stories they told.

My heart is quite broken, and heavy tonight, thinking about the individuals who pull these kinds of moves, and the emotional pain that comes with it. It was such a relief to see my mom put herself out there again, and to feel confident and happy, and she is left crushed now. We both should have seen the warning signs, but I was just as caught up in her wave of happiness as she was.....

I guess this is a PSA to be EXTRA careful online, and to share that knowledge with people who don't know it. My generation is so connected it is nearly inherent and I overlook these warnings. This also served as a release for how sickened and angry I am. Love you, mom and I'm so sorry you went through this.

I'ts not always easy to tell when you're being scammed, especially when strong emotions like love are involved. And when it's online, you never know who's really on the other end of that scam. Fortunately for my friend's mother, she knew not to give "Fred" the $5,000 he had asked for. However, not everyone is able to acknowledge, or even spot, any red flags. Here are 6 red flags for online dating scams to look for.

If you have a story you'd like to share with me, feel free to email me or tweet me @mollieonair.

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