A handful of Canadian women were scammed out of almost $300,000 in a Nigerian romance hoax, the Edmonton, Alberta, Sun reported.
For one woman, the online dating scheme started when the unidentified middle-aged divorcee received text messages last year from a man about 10 years younger than her.
"They said, 'You know, you're a very pretty lady, I like your profile,'" the victim told the Edmonton Sun. "You feel very flattered."
After several more e-mails, instant messages and phone calls, the man promised to come to Canada and marry her.
Then came the requests for money, including one that claimed the man's son was hospitalized and needed three surgeries, the Sun reported.
The scheme continued for about five months.
"I had so many friends tell me, 'Don't send money,'" she said. "But you love that person, you believe what they say. You don't want to stop."
Prompted by a friend, the victim called the police, who say she will likely never her money back because they have to rely on Nigerian police to find the scammers.