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An exotic stranger needs help, and you’re the only one able to provide it.

On any given day, a handful of those pleas still file into your email’s spam folder.

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That’s not to say they’re the most effective; many, in fact, perform grammatical acrobatics that barely qualify as English.It turns out that all those people parsing dating profiles for grammar above all else are protecting themselves not just from bad dates, but from bad actors.For others, however, it can be a life-ruining decision – leaving us penniless, heartbroken and with many more problems heading our way.The only way to avoid an online romance scam is to be aware of their occurrences and also to know how to spot them before they begin.When Boko Haram kidnapped a group of school girls last spring, Winchester said, dating profile fakers would claim to be there abroad as part of a US special forces mission.

In reality, they were Nigerian con artists, hoping to be sent money to pay for a flight they would never take.“The sad reality is that the most effective scammers will tend to be the human beings who build trusting relationships over a long period of time with their targets,” says Winchester.

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If one bot network pushes out the same garbled phrase to millions of profiles, it can quickly skew the pick-up line popularity contest.

These bots aren’t necessarily looking for love, or even for a direct cash transfer; they’re often simply trying to convince their marks to install something, like an app, in a case of direct marketing gone gross.“In some ways the target isn’t really the victim of anything other than having their time wasted, and installing a game that they don’t necessarily want,” says Winchester of these bot-based shakedowns.

“And their targets genuinely fall in love with those individuals, even after the scam has been executed…