How much money would you send an online love interest?
E! News has an exclusive sneak peek at the latest episode of Oxygen Digital's series Dark Web Exposed that explores the manipulation, deception and extortion behind Internet romance scammers.
Take Debby Montgomery Johnson for instance: the successful businesswoman who tried online dating after her husband died. Debby quickly started talking to a charming man who called himself "Eric Cole" and lived in London.
"Eric was a comfort, he knew what to say," Debby shared in the preview. "He made me laugh, he made me feel valuable as a woman, as a business partner, as a mom."
The two became boyfriend and girlfriend. "It was like we were young and dating again. It was very fun," Debby said.
Debby even formed relationships with people she believed to be Eric's sister and son. Unfortunately, Eric was not Eric and neither were the scammers pretending to be his family online.
"They tend to work in teams of anywhere from 3, 4 to as many as 16," one expert explained. "They use a technique called gaslighting. The victim is systematically manipulated to change their perception of reality."
That's when "Eric" started asking for money and Debby was quick to help out the man she thought she loved.
"He wanted another friend of his to get online so he ask me to send him a check for about $45, which I did. The next time was $2,500. The next one might have been $10,000. The largest amount was maybe $50,000 or $100,000. It was all based on I'll get it back within a few weeks," she revealed. "Altogether it was $1,080,762."
Hear Debby's story for yourself above and watch the full episode of Dark Web Exposed on Oxygen.com.
(E! and Oxygen are both part of the NBCUniversal family)