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The crook will then lavish you with attention and flattery.

The idea is to get you to suspend good sense and become enamored with someone you've known online for just a few weeks and have never met in person. Kipps has decided that another tip-off is photographs that show all the trappings of wealth -- exotic cars, mansions, pictures in romantic foreign settings.

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Where do the scammers get photos of themselves in these exotic locations and with these costly products? They troll other sites and steal other people's photos. Many are operating out of foreign countries, despite profiles saying they live nearby. When she declined, the messages got more desperate.

Budgyk knows this from experience: A Nigerian scammer lifted photos from Budgyk's profile. Their photographs are also likely of someone else, and that would be tough to explain in person. He sent heart-wrenching photos of a young girl, who appeared to be his daughter's age, hooked to a raft of medical monitors.

Morrison's erstwhile Romeo claimed he needed her to "lend" him $18,000 to deal with one of the many crises he had fabricated.

"He said he was going to pay me back double," she laughs.

The only way to avoid an online romance scam is to be aware of their occurrences and also to know how to spot them before they begin.