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Victims can be highly traumatized by this and are often very embarrassed and ashamed when they learn they have become a victim of a scam and that the romance was a farce.In some cases, online dating services are themselves engaged in misrepresentation, displaying profiles which have been fabricated, which use personal information from users who have not agreed to be depicted on the site social accounts, classified sites and even forums to groom new victims.Before the South China Morning Post, Rachel worked as a reporter at the Evening Standard in London.Follow her on Twitter @rachelblundy." data-title="Rachel Blundy" data-html="true" data-template=" Hong Kong’s gender imbalance and societal pressure on women to get married are among factors being blamed for a rise in online dating scam cases, which have increased fourfold in the city in just three years.In reality, Mesa Mayor John Giles is happily married — and has been for more than 30 years. "That day, I went home to my wife and said, 'You're never going to guess what happened today. But online, his personal photos are attached to a dating profile for a divorced dad in Vancouver, British Columbia, looking for "another opportunity to find something special."Giles learned that an unknown, online persona is using his personal photos on last week when a woman reached out to the Mayor's Office.Giles said if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.He said he hopes this sparks a conversation about the seriousness of online dangers."If this provokes some conversation between parents and kids, then it's probably a good thing," Giles said."It has certainly become easier for more different types of people to commit this type of fraud," said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego.

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Cheated hearts, empty pockets: online dating scams in Hong Kong and abroad Scammers typically pose as Western professionals working in Southeast Asia, possibly as bankers or entrepreneurs.

Upon finding victims, scammers lure them to more private means of communication, (such as providing an e-mail address) to allow for fraud to occur.

The fraud typically involves the scammer acting as if they've quickly fallen for the victim so that when they have the opportunity to ask for money, the victim at that time has become too emotionally involved, and will have deep feelings of guilt if they decline the request for money from the scammer.

Does someone accidentally fall on you in the grocery store?

In the two-and-a-half hours I leave the house each week, is he going to trip on me at Starbucks while I’m nervously palming my skinny hazelnut latte and completely avoiding eye contact?

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