OROVILLE — Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey is hoping that residents can avoid Internet fraud by learning from the mistakes of one local woman.An Oroville woman, whose name is being withheld for privacy purposes, was a recent victim of a Internet scam, which cost her thousands of dollars and heartache.

After meeting someone on an Internet dating site who described himself as a wealthy businessman, the couple began forging a relationship, exchanging e-mails, photos and telephone conversations.

The man claimed to live in Nigeria and London, and the relationship remained long-distance, with no physical contact.

Over time, the two began making plans for marriage, with the woman sending various amounts of money to the man in preparation for the wedding and their future life together. The sum of money included $3,000 for an airline ticket to the United States as well as several thousand dollars for his-and-hers SUVs that would be purchased once he arrived in Sacramento.

The woman’s family was skeptical and brought in a District Attorney’s Office economic crime investigator to prove to the woman that she was the victim of a scam.

When the man would not give the woman his flight information, she realized that she had been duped.

Ramsey said the experience has been “emotionally wrenching” for the woman, who had sent out wedding invitations and reserved a location for the wedding and reception.

To add insult to injury, Ramsey added there is little recourse for the woman. “Unfortunately, nothing will probably be done,” Ramsey said. “We don’t have the resources to track this down. Once the money is gone overseas, it’s gone.”

To avoid future scams, Ramsey advised individuals to be cautious. He suggested using a web camera for communication to see who you are actually talking with and advised individuals to scrutinize any packages sent, to ensure the purchases weren’t made with a stolen credit card.

Above all else, though, Ramsey said people must rely on their instincts.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is,” Ramsey said.