STOCKTON, CA - He was a smooth and patient con-man with a Continental flair and good cover story, and he came close to taking a Stockton woman for what little money she had.
"Oh yeah, he told me he was madly in love with me," said Sandy Evans-Campbell, curled up on the couch in her mobile home in Stockton.
She recalled long evenings of instant messaging with a seemingly charming man claiming to be an American traveling on business in Europe.
"And that as soon as he got back to Oakland, would I move in with him and I'd never have to worry about money," Evans-Campbell recalls him promising.
However soon, Evans-Campbell had to worry about money as her apparent suitor carefully set the trap.
"'Oh my God, the worst just happened,'" Evans-Campbell remembered him saying one night. "He said, 'I've been robbed.' He said, 'three guys jumped into my taxi, put a pillowcase over my head.'"
Then came the requests for help, that soon became almost constant.
"He wanted me to start calling the banks. He wanted my bank info," Evans-Campbell said.
She held back on sending any money, becoming concerned that the man's focus seemed to switch completely from their cyberspace relationship to demands for help.
But the realization she was simply a mark for a con-man took a painful toll.
"It was pretty devastating because I thought you know, I just got screwed all over again, you know? I don't trust anybody no more," Evans-Campbell said, recalling the sudden feeling of betrayal.
Evans-Campbell believes the pictures the man send were of someone else.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Andrew Mendonsa, who practices in Sacramento, has seen it happen to both his friends and his patients and the emotional damage it can cause.
"The loss of trust. Your ability to trust again," Mendonsa said. "Your ability to actually reach out and put yourself out there."
What seemed a marvelous fantasy come true, should have been a tip-off to take it slowly, Mendonsa said.
"Be realistic. Listen to your gut," Mendonsa said. "Is it realistic that after a few emails, could I possibly fall in love with someone who can offer me the world, who can offer me everything I've ever wanted?"
It's a lesson Evans-Campbell has taken to heart.
"Don't! Do not fall for it. Don't fall for anybody's games, don't give out any money," Evans-Campbell said, shaking her head at how suddenly her fantasy became all too real.