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 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.

Comments (26)
  1. Christophe says:

    Yes, you have to be VERY careful out there. Do NOT give money to anyone online. Scams like this make my blood BOIL!!

    Screen, Screen, Screen!! Meet your partner offline as soon as possible.

    Internet Dating Tips For

  2. Gene says:

    You get what you ask for, do you actually believe a 25 yr. old was out to make you happy . you need to wake up and smell the coffee. Not a good way to comfort your lonelyness.

  3. Everyone's a critic says:

    Predators thrive on secrecy. They know the public will ridicule anyone with the courage to admit a costly mistake. Those of you who’ve bashed Joan for describing this guy’s M.O. are ignoring the fact that she’s fighting back and is able to withstand your scorn. She’s not asking for your pity – she’s making it harder for this lowlife to score. At least he’ll have to go to the trouble of stealing some new photos and creating a different story. She’s also performing a public service by warning others to be wary. Bashers who think they’re smarter than Joan are wrong. They’ve played right into his hand.

  4. DanTe says:

    She would have had a better Return On Investment (ROI) by paying for gigolos. She would have at least gotten laid.

  5. Abigail says:

    Seriously, how gullible can someone be in 2010? I do not feel sorry for her because in this day and age there is just no excuse for not being internet savvy. I’m older than she is and there is no way I would give someone money over the internet. And she thought a military officer cannot afford a laptop or doesn’t get paid? Please..If they cannot go on camera with you and back up their story with plausible fact, move on. All it takes is some brains. I met a man on the internet, we talked on cam within a few weeks, he was on a plane 2 months later and we are living together happily ever after. Cam…they cost $40 and if someone doesn’t have one..move on.

  6. sakeena says:

    out of humaniti activiteis. so dont vast time for animas.

  7. Paul says:

    She must have snagged the 25 K from her divorce settlement. Not worth it for a 6 month web romance.

  8. Hany Zahran says:

    I would have dated her fir half of that money and I will even save her the wire transfer fee, I will pick it up myself

  9. Damien Corrector says:

    To Damien:

    Sorry, but I just have to point-out that the article does not state that the woman works for Hofstra. It is true that a Hofstra Professor commented but the two are different people. Therefore before you call someone for being so dumb, you may want to check the facts.

    That said, yes, she was dumb.

  10. bob says:

    who is going to date with you……..come on

  11. Amp says:

    She made a mistake…sometime you find love online but you have to very careful these days…he will get his and for impersonating a U.S Soldier is a crime as well….They are so many good people but then you find the one who makes it back for all the other honest ones.

  12. qborolegend says:

    Sad, but hey she asked for it. I mean, really? Why would you send money to a guy you never actually met or even is in the US. Her money is lost – she will never recover that – they wont even be able to trace the IP. There is no int’l juridiction, especially for just 25K. She just got taken. I dont have sympathy because she stupidly walked into that. I can see if it was some old lady who age and diminished mental prowess was used against her or some inexpirenced little kid was conned, but this gal seems to have walked into it knowingly and willingly. C’est La Vie

  13. whytruthhurts says:

    It is very sad that people are being cheated by scams everyday and the culprits get away with it the reason is because people most of the time use their emotions when they are supposed use intelligence. You find some people are very smart in business and all of a sudden they lose billions of dollars and commit suicide. So when a person is hoodwinked by another person, doesn’t mean the person who heard the it cannot think that he would be smarter because the situations can vary where one can be out smart event the smartest person on the planet. I feel sorry for her because this is the way the things are.

  14. rhonda says:

    It takes a strong person to own up to a mistake like that. If people are thinking she has not paid a heavy price well she has. I am shocked by all of the negative publicity out there. You can see some people enjoy kicking someone when they are down. This same thing almost happened to me. These guys are good at what they do, and if you have a heart then they will twist it!

    1. Karol says:

      Simple rule, if a guy can’t support himself, walk away…

    2. Yolanda says:

      To all of you out there, yes, she was stupid maybe, but there are men and women out there who are predators….they know exactly what kind of person to look for and they stop at nothing until the person falls into their lies. Very intelligent men AND women have fallen prey to these predators.

  15. Nemesis xyz says:

    To the suspect: You had better run to the Moon and hide because now you’re a FUGITIVE. If you stay on Earth, they’ll hunt you down like the animal that you are.

  16. Nemesis xyz says:

    There are lots of GIGOLOS out there preying on desperate women. Real men work, whereas Gigolos just service women…a John. Disgusting to say the least.

  17. HUGO says:

    She looks like she’s in prison.

    1. Kibben says:

      At first, but those are medical scrubs. Along with the caduceus on the picture hanging on the wall, I’d say she’s in the medical field.

    2. Jack says:

      She escaped and hid for six months but her stupidity eventually took her back into custody.

  18. Damien says:

    Your an idiot for lending that kind of money to anyone. I don’t even trust my own family. You deserved to be scammed. Lend someone $25,000 after a 6 month relationship WOW sucker across your head. Hofstra should fire you for being so dumb

    1. samira says:

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  19. Frank says:

    How stupid can you be? Serves her right!!!

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