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But to O'Neil Mc Gean, who stood in the Pierce Funeral Home parking lot in Manassas, Virginia, gripping a friend's hand and fighting back tears, Brian had been so much more. They had met at a stoplight, O'Neil's personality so boisterous it took him only a few seconds to make a lasting impression. O'Neil had moved there in 2006 after visiting a few times.

After agreeing to meet someone through a dating app, O'Neil disappeared - as did ,000 from his bank accounts. How could O'Neil fall prey to the same trap that had claimed Brian six years prior? “Si, yo estoy aqui,” replied Donnie Mc Gean, O'Neil's oldest brother. ” “Not as good [as] I want.” They had met six months earlier when Donnie and his wife visited O'Neil in Mazatlan, a city known as the Pearl of the Pacific.

Unusually for someone her age, Aleksandra had no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.

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Just in the month of January, Scamwatch data revealed Australians lost an astonishing

Just in the month of January, Scamwatch data revealed Australians lost an astonishing $1.8 million to dating and romance scams.

Ms Rickard said it was important for people who had been duped by such a scam to both report it and tell their story."We know that when other victims hear victims telling their stories, that is when the penny starts to drop," she said."The more people stand up and talk about it, the better it is for other people."Do you think you may have been scammed?

They were eating seafood at a restaurant on the malecón when the Mexican's phone suddenly began to buzz.

The messages were from O'Neil's phone - but not from O'Neil.

When Dave's friends suggested 'Aleksandra' might even be a man, his mood changed abruptly. The Mount Gambier man shared the contents of the roughly 50 emails he received over three months conversing with 'Aleksandra' with ABC Local Radio, wanting to help prevent further victims.

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Just in the month of January, Scamwatch data revealed Australians lost an astonishing $1.8 million to dating and romance scams.Ms Rickard said it was important for people who had been duped by such a scam to both report it and tell their story."We know that when other victims hear victims telling their stories, that is when the penny starts to drop," she said."The more people stand up and talk about it, the better it is for other people."Do you think you may have been scammed?They were eating seafood at a restaurant on the malecón when the Mexican's phone suddenly began to buzz.The messages were from O'Neil's phone - but not from O'Neil.When Dave's friends suggested 'Aleksandra' might even be a man, his mood changed abruptly. The Mount Gambier man shared the contents of the roughly 50 emails he received over three months conversing with 'Aleksandra' with ABC Local Radio, wanting to help prevent further victims.

.8 million to dating and romance scams.

Ms Rickard said it was important for people who had been duped by such a scam to both report it and tell their story."We know that when other victims hear victims telling their stories, that is when the penny starts to drop," she said."The more people stand up and talk about it, the better it is for other people."Do you think you may have been scammed?

They were eating seafood at a restaurant on the malecón when the Mexican's phone suddenly began to buzz.

The messages were from O'Neil's phone - but not from O'Neil.

When Dave's friends suggested 'Aleksandra' might even be a man, his mood changed abruptly. The Mount Gambier man shared the contents of the roughly 50 emails he received over three months conversing with 'Aleksandra' with ABC Local Radio, wanting to help prevent further victims.

The case is a textbook example of a classic dating swindle, said Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair Delia Rickard.'Her' name was Aleksandra and 'she' was young and pretty with a long, dark mane of hair and dark brown eyes.She contacted Dave (not his real name) on dating site Zoosk in November last year, telling him she was a 32-year-old Russian woman eager to pursue a serious relationship.It was December when the first plea for help with her travel arrangements arrived in Dave's inbox.When Dave told his friends about his new girlfriend, they laughed and said: "mate, you're getting scammed" but Dave kept emailing and Aleksandra always knew the right thing to say to assuage his doubts.She had emailed her phone number but told Dave he could not call her, saying "my phone doesn't accept international calls".