Trusting your gut, rather than your heart, goes a long way in the world of online dating.

Originally posted by David Bisson on GrahamCluley.com

A New Zealand woman spent two and a half years in prison after she fell for an online romance scam.

Sharon Armstrong, 59, recounted her story on the reality of romance fraud.

It all started several years ago when Armstrong signed up for an online dating site, met a guy, and “fell hard and fast” in her words:

“He talked about our future together. There were daily phone calls, emails, texts. When my computer was later analyzed they found more than 7000 emails. But nothing visual. There was always an excuse for why he couldn’t Skype. Now I realize that for those 5.5 months I was being groomed very well through a number of tests to see if I could be trusted.”

Apparently, Armstrong passed all the tests.

Several months into their relationship, the scammer asked if Armstrong could travel to Buenos Aires, pick up a contract from a local company, and deliver it to him in London.

Armstrong researched the company and determined it was legitimate. Additionally, while other dating scammers have asked for money from their victims, this particular fraudster agreed to pay for Armstrong’s airfare both ways.

So she got on a plane and traveled to Argentinian hotel, where a suitcase awaited her. She found no documents in the suitcase, but the scammer told her the contract had been placed in the lining.

“He said it was a large contract, there was lots of secrecy around it, but if I wanted to, I could lift up the lining and have a look. I never pulled up the lining. Part of me was telling myself ‘You’re being paranoid’. I just thought ‘You know what I trust this man. He would never do this’.”

Unfortunately, Armstrong couldn’t have been more wrong.

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