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She even holds out hope that one day Charlie will repay her, as he promised to do so many times. There can’t be a man in this world that could be this horrible to have purposefully done what he’s done to me.” The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do.

Otherwise, there is no doubt that he is a heartless criminal who robbed her and broke her heart—and who is almost certainly continuing to victimize other women in the same way.“I can’t even imagine a man, a person, that could be this bad,” she said. They spend hours honing their skills and sometimes keep journals on their victims to better understand how to manipulate and exploit them.“Behind the veil of romance, it’s a criminal enterprise like any other,” said Special Agent Christine Beining.

But with an Internet crime like this, it’s much more difficult.”As for the Texas woman, she came forward “because I don’t want this to happen to anybody else.

“It’s not like going in a bank and holding a gun to the teller,” Beining explained, “because there are so many leads that you provide law enforcement when you do that.Even if you are able to get out of the bank, we can probably find out who you are and track you down.The woman believed she would be paying to have the money—including the repayment of her million—transferred to the U. from South Africa, where Charlie was still supposedly working.In July 2016, the two Nigerian co-conspirators pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the scam, and a federal judge sentenced them each to 36 months in prison last December.But Charlie is still at large, presumably in Nigeria, and there may be little hope of bringing him to justice.

“This is a very difficult crime to prove,” Beining said.“The Internet makes this type of crime easy because you can pretend to be anybody you want to be.You can be anywhere in the world and victimize people,” she said.“When someone is using a computer to hide behind, the hardest thing to find out is who they are.We can find out where in the world their computer is being used. “He was saying all the right things,” she remembered. It’s called a romance scam, and this devastating Internet crime is on the rise.