They had the same values and wanted the same future. “It was a real high.” She couldn’t quite believe this lovely man had come into her life.They talked on the phone night and day in their own little bubble of excitement.

Then he was returning her money by diplomatic courier – with an exit fee of $25,000. All documented with a courier website and tracking sheets.

“He took me on a fantasy journey,” Patricia says now.

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Catch me if you can, my dear.” These were the last chilling words Patricia Meister heard from the man who had wanted to marry her.

“There is no pirate with a patch over his eye,” the Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection in Western Australia, David Hillyard, says.

“It is very much a grooming exercise and victims are brought along gently and slowly.”Another woman who was scammed, Elina Juusola, says the seduction phase “was very intense, incredible, like the best romance novel you have ever read, very sexy, which makes you high as a kite.” After all the disappointments life can deal, why not take a risk on love?

Kathryn Collins, a fraud prevention officer with the Queensland Police, agrees. There is a whole network of people working in the background and they won’t stop until they get your money.”Last year, romance fraud took million from innocent Australians who just wanted to be loved.

Yet the majority of victims are too ashamed to report it, so the real figures may be significantly higher.

“They can target you with different types of emails and different types of profiles,” says Elina, who has written a book, Love On The Line, to raise awareness of the issue and help victims move on.

“An engineer from Texas who is a widower with one child, a military person who is in Afghanistan, or a civil engineer who is from Brisbane, but is working in Malaysia, businessmen who travel a lot, a doctor who wants to build a hospital in a Third World country – you will fall for one of them.” Says Patricia Meister, “They infiltrate social media, dating sites and Skype.

Our previous scam investigations have been internationally recognised and provide our clients the ability to make informed decisions about their new relationships.