THE HIGH COST OF BEING A FOOL FOR ONLINE LOVE Melinda is a 20-year-old student in Western Pennsylvania who has watched her mother suffer deeply during the past 10 years, losing her husband and her job and waging an intense battle with agoraphobia fear of public spaces which progressed to the point where she is essentially homebound. Now, the 53-year-old womans one hope of finding love later in life the Internet has turned against her in a cruel way. For the past year, Melinda has helplessly watched as her mom has slowly fallen for a long-distance, online lover who clearly is scamming her. Initially the man, who gave his name as Michael and said he was in Texas, played the part of desperate lover, typing sweet nothings into a chat room and pledging a happy-ever-after life beautiful homes, cars, luxurious trips. Soon, though, he said he was sent on an emergency trip to Nigeria. Then came a curious request: Michael said he needed $500 so he could leave the country and visit the family in Pennsylvania. Melindas mom wired the money to Africa. Then came another request, and another. In all, Melinda thinks her mom wired nearly $10,000 to Michael, each time thinking the payment would enable her lover to visit or help him escape a dire situation. The romance has so financially drained the family that Melinda and her mom have been threatened with foreclosure. Still, Melinda said, her mom continues to wire money to Michael. The high cost of being a fool for online love - The Red Tape Chronicles - msnbc.com interesting read on scam artists who prey on lonely people on the net btw if you really feel the desire to send money to some stranger.....why not find a charity that hooks you up with a kid somewhere...perhaps fix a kid's smile etc....or you can send it to me~ that works for me!