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Prosecutor Ruth Smith said small amounts spiralled into a fortune after he “brainwashed” women into believing they were in a real relationship.

Ms Smith said: “He conducted an online dating fraud exploiting lonely and vulnerable women by pretending he was an American soldier in Afghanistan to get money.” When police searched his computer in January 2015 they found “conversations with numerous women”.

He claimed he was stationed at Camp Joyce, a remote base in eastern Afghanistan.

He began “intense online relationships” with the women, before asking for money.

The woman believed she would be paying to have the money—including the repayment of her million—transferred to the U. from South Africa, where Charlie was still supposedly working.

In July 2016, the two Nigerian co-conspirators pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the scam, and a federal judge sentenced them each to 36 months in prison last December.

Scammers often use female profiles as well to fool their potential victim.

In all, she sent him nearly 0,000, as he apparently followed a well-honed script that online criminals use to bilk members of dating sites out of tens of millions of dollars a year." According to the Times internet scammers are targeting women in their 50s and 60s, often retired and living alone, who say that the email and phone wooing forms a bond that may not be physical but that is intense and enveloping. 31, 2014, nearly 6,000 people registered complaints of such confidence fraud with losses of .3 million, according to the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Older people are ideal targets because they often have accumulated savings over a lifetime, own their homes and are susceptible to being deceived by someone intent on fraud.

The duped women believed Captain Morgan Travis was an Afghan war hero looking for love on website

But Captain Travis did not exist and had been invented by fraudster Tosin Femi Olasemo, 38, who was jailed in 2015 for four-and-a-half years after admitting fraud.