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L.I. Woman Out $25K In Online Dating Scheme

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Joan Romano

Joan Romano (Photo: CBS 2)

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LYNBROOK, N.Y. (CBS 2) — A Long Island woman is out $25,000 after being conned by a man she met through an online dating site.

Joan Romano, a recent divorcee and Lynbrook resident, said she went looking for love in cyberspace and gullibly fell for a man claiming to be a U.S. soldier fighting overseas.

“I felt, you know what, maybe this is the way I can find a friend. Well I found one alright and I’m so sorry that I did,” Romano told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.

Romano entered a virtual romance via Match.com with a man who went by Sgt. Austin Newman. He sent the woman photos and sweet messages in addition to asking her to ship him a laptop so they could keep closer in touch, McLogan reported.

The man also asked Romano if he could borrow money during their six-month courtship and she complied.

The emails from the apparent con artist soldier stopped when Romano became suspicious and asked for her money back.

“This should never happen. It’s a disgrace and anyone that’s going to impersonate a U.S. soldier deserves to be punished,” Romano said.

Hofstra Professor Paul Mihailidis spoke with CBS 2 and said people should be savvy on the web because many internet sites do not have filters to prevent this type of scamming.

“The online world and particularly social media, doesn’t have those kind of markers in place that are very transparent. So we have to do a little more digging,” Mihailidis said.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice also warned people to be cautious in cases that involve wiring money overseas.

“If you find yourself in a situation where you are being asked to send money, the answer is ‘no.’ Turn your computer off. Walk away,” Rice said.

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