The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent.And her pitch was straightforward: Looking for a life partner …Then she saw this guy, the one with a mysterious profile name — darkandsugarclue.

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This seemed to be one of the problems with online dating.

She resolved to be pickier, only contacting men who were closely matched — 90 percent or more, as determined by the algorithm pulling the strings behind her online search. Back in college, she'd studied computer science and psychology, and she considered herself pretty tech-savvy.

Plus, when she went back to look at darkandsugarclue's profile, it had disappeared. As I am recalling the information you shared intrigued me. Please email me with information about yourself and pictures so I can get to know you better.

Duane wrote right back, a long message that sketched a peripatetic life — he described himself as a "computer systems analyst" from North Hollywood, California, who grew up in Manchester, England, and had lived in Virginia for only five months.

She had a website for her business, was on Facebook, carried a smartphone.

But who knew exactly how these online dating services worked?And she was full of questions, about him and about online dating in general."It is kind of a strange way to meet people," she wrote, "but it's not as cold as hanging around the produce department at the Kroger's." She also mentioned the deception she'd already encountered on previous dates — "lots of false advertising or 'bait and switch' folks," she wrote.successful, spiritually minded, intelligent, good sense of humor, enjoys dancing and travelling. In those first weeks, she exchanged messages and a few calls with men, and even met some for coffee or lunch.But nothing clicked — either they weren't her type or they weren't exactly who they said they were. Two sharp blows that had left her alone in her late 50s. His cancer took him swiftly, before she had time to process what was happening.