A few months after her husband's death in 2012, Joanna — who asked her real name not be used to protect her privacy — went on looking for the soul mate she'd never had in her troubled marriage.
She soon got a message from a man who said he was a widowed engineer from Colorado.
For thousands of people each year, the search for love online ends not just with a broken heart, but an empty bank account.
So-called romance scams — in which fraudsters smother victims with professions of love then plead for large "loans" to cover invented emergencies — appear to be on the rise, according to federal law enforcement and fraud experts.
Victim advocates say the true cost of romance scams is probably much higher than official estimates because victims, men in particular, often stay silent out of shame.
Although older adults are often targeted — more than three-quarters of complaints to federal agencies came from people 40 and older — fraud experts say people of all ages and backgrounds can fall prey to romance scams.
Within a week the man calling himself John had captured Joanna's heart with compliments, humor and declarations that she was the one.
A few months later John had to travel to Africa for business — a common ruse that signals the start of trouble.