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These scammers spend hours extracting thousands of American e-mail addresses, sending off fraudulent letters, and then wait for hundreds of replies each day.
For the vulnerable and lonely, the scammers offer the irresistible hope and belief that they have found their true love and soul mate - without a question or a doubt.
The woman, who only wants to be known as Jenny, is the first known WA romance fraud victim to receive any money back.
Jenny, 51, told ABC 720 local radio that she developed a relationship with a man called Gary in 2013 on the online dating website RSVP.
Jenny said she had resigned herself to the fact that she would never see the money again and felt like she had won the lottery after her bank agreed to recall several payments of money she sent to the conman."I've got it - it's safely tucked away in my bank," she said."When I learnt I had been defrauded, I put a recall on the funds and I have maintained contact with the overseas banks since that time in different channels, just assuring them that it was fraud."I sent three payments and I got two repayments back in the same amounts, so I got two phone calls back saying the money is here."I feel very lucky; a bit like winning the lottery."Jenny said the scammers prey on people who are vulnerable."I guess that was my question, how could I have fallen for that?" she said."And I think it's not the what or the who, it is the when.It's when a person has a little chink in their armour that someone can get in, and it festers and they make the most of it."Detective Sergeant Blackshaw said efforts to stop overseas scams targeting Australians need to be made on a national scale."The scammer in West Africa is going to look at an Australian as an Australian," he said."They are not going to look at them as a West Australian or a South Australian.Since they work in shifts they appear to be online at all hours, but may not remember previous conversations with the victim, or they may even call the victim by another name.
Scammers shape their identities based on the information provided in potential victim profiles.
Online romance scammers work together in groups of six, usually at cyber cafes, sending out hundreds of emails through the dating websites and chat rooms waiting for responses.