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The sad way a 'love scammer' gets ordinary Australian women to trust him.

Queenslander Chyrel Muzic has lost $40,000 to an internet love scammer. It was $40,000 she didn’t have. Over two years, she borrowed the money, taking out a personal loan and going to Cash Converters. But she doesn’t sound as angry as you might expect.

“I don’t even really hate the scammer or anything,” Muzic said on the ABC’s Four Corners this week. “I’m not kidding you. He has been the most beautiful person that God ever put breath into.”

The Four Corners report into West African cybercrime has exposed a sad truth. There are lots of single middle-aged Australian women out there who want someone to make them feel special. They want it so badly that they’re prepared to ignore suspicious signs and agree to suspicious requests for money.

Because, like Muzic, they’ve found love with a ruggedly handsome American military man. Or, at least, that’s what they believe.

Muzic spent two years thinking she was having an online relationship with US Colonel Bryan Denny. In fact, the person who strung her along for all that time was a 29-year-old Nigerian man.

“I was totally in love with him, totally besotted,” she says. “I’d never loved anyone like I loved him.

“I thought all my dreams had come true.”

Four Corners arranged for Muzic and the real Colonel Denny to meet over Skype. Denny’s image has been used countless times in scams to steal money from women, and he has reported more than 3000 fake accounts using his image to Facebook.

“I’ve been in love with you for two years,” Muzic told Denny with a laugh.

So what is it that these scammers do to make women fall in love with them and trust them completely?

Maria Exposto is another victim, and her story is even more horrifying than Muzic’s. The Sydney grandmother fell for a US special forces soldier called Captain Daniel Smith. They had an online relationship for more than a year.

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“I was blindly in love with Daniel,” Exposto says. “He would sing love songs to me five times a day.”

He would also send her romantic messages: “I yearn to look into your eyes the way that lovers do and hear you whisper, ‘I love you.’”

What Exposto didn’t realise was that she was looking at photos of a retired British naval officer but speaking to criminals from West Africa. After she sent more than $18,000 to the scammers, which left her broke, she was convinced to travel to Shanghai to sign Smith’s retirement papers, and then sent home with a bag. The bag contained a kilogram of ice. The drugs were detected at Kuala Lumpur airport and Exposto was sentenced to death.

So how do these scammers get so good at what they do? They see it as their job and they take pride in their work. They can even buy scripts that tell them what to say to women, day by day.

Four Corners travelled to Ghana to speak to some of the scammers. One, calling himself Skidoo, said women liked men who were caring. Skidoo will call a woman he’s scamming all the time, asking how she is, whether she’s eaten, and so on.

“Maybe it’s been long since she met someone like that. It’s been a long time since someone pampered her. It’s been long since someone told her sweet things.”

Muzic knows that the Nigerian man who scammed her didn’t love her or care for her. He just wanted her money. She’s gone public with her story because she doesn’t want other women to fall into the same trap.

In a nation like Australia, with so many single women who have reached the age where they feel invisible, there are potential victims everywhere – women who would love to meet a man who asks after them all the time, sends them romantic messages and maybe even sings them love songs.

How many other Aussie women are realising today that they’re not the only one in love with Colonel Bryan Denny?

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