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She filled out a questionnaire and carefully crafted her profile.It would have been easy to burnish the truth, but she presented herself honestly, from her age (57) and hobbies ("dancing, rock collecting") to her financial status ("self sufficient"). Now she was all by herself in a house secluded at the end of a long gravel driveway. At first, she just tiptoed around the many dating sites, window-shopping in this peculiar new marketplace. It wasn't until the fall that Amy was ready to dive in.

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He wants the services to be more proactive about contacting likely victims: After a user has been flagged as a potential scammer, the site could reach out to any members that user had contacted, disrupting the con at its infancy.

Industry critics cite other methods to weed out fraudsters, such as screening for images or text repeated in multiple profiles or blocking accounts from IP addresses that don't match the profile's listed location.

*Names have been changed to protect identities A short message sent on a Thursday evening in early December 2013, under the subject line: Match? She signed up for a six-month subscription to Match.com, the largest and one of the oldest dating services on the Web.

In the summer, when the trees leafed out, you couldn't even see the road or the neighbors. She'd grown up here, in a conservative pocket of Virginia. When it came to meeting new people, however, her choices were limited. The holidays were coming, and she didn't want to face them alone.

The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent.