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Two sharp blows that had left her alone in her late 50s. His cancer took him swiftly, before she had time to process what was happening.

It had been over two years since the death of her husband of 20 years; four, since she had lost her mother.

Plus, when she went back to look at darkandsugarclue's profile, it had disappeared. As I am recalling the information you shared intrigued me. Please email me with information about yourself and pictures so I can get to know you better.

Duane wrote right back, a long message that sketched a peripatetic life — he described himself as a "computer systems analyst" from North Hollywood, California, who grew up in Manchester, England, and had lived in Virginia for only five months.

successful, spiritually minded, intelligent, good sense of humor, enjoys dancing and travelling. In those first weeks, she exchanged messages and a few calls with men, and even met some for coffee or lunch.

But nothing clicked — either they weren't her type or they weren't exactly who they said they were.

But as financial crimes go, the love con was a rare breed, too time- and labor-intensive to carry out in large numbers.

"You certainly have a great sense of humor and a way with words," she responded.

And she was full of questions, about him and about online dating in general.

"It is kind of a strange way to meet people," she wrote, "but it's not as cold as hanging around the produce department at the Kroger's." She also mentioned the deception she'd already encountered on previous dates — "lots of false advertising or 'bait and switch' folks," she wrote.

The mainstreaming of online dating is a revolution in progress, one that's blurring the boundaries between "real" and online relationships.

(AARP has joined this revolution, partnering with the online dating service How About We to launch AARP Dating in December 2012.) But the online-dating boom has also fueled an invisible epidemic.


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