I hope I don’t wake up to find it was all a dream.” Miss Roberts, of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, discovered she had been duped after she made a £12,000 payment for an air fare – and all contact ceased.
Leicestershire Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency is investigating.
The US Embassy is trying to identify the soldier in the pictures.
Last night divorcee Miss Roberts said: “Aside from the money, I’ve lost the love of my life.
I know he wasn’t real, but the feelings were real to me.
“I was taken in by this very clever gang and I don’t want anyone else to go through what I did.
“I had to sell my house to pay my debts, my credit score is through the roof so I cannot have any credit, mortgage or overdraft.
“Hundreds of other women must be being conned.” Miss Roberts was persuaded to send money to a bank account and via Western Union after “Sgt Smith” said he wanted to buy himself out of the army so they could live together.
She paid £225 for a phoneline for him, and was called by a man with an American accent every day.An email from “Sgt Smith” read: “I can’t help being madly in love with you.Kate Roberts, 47, was swindled out of £80,000 after fraudsters posted a bogus profile on a dating website.Miss Roberts contacted US army sergeant Mark Ray Smith, a handsome 43-year-old widower with an 11-year-old daughter, after seeing the profile on the dating area of Friends Reunited.She was convinced that Sgt Smith, whose profile contained half-naked pictures of a soldier, was in Iraq.But months later, she visited a Cambridgeshire base where he claimed to be previously stationed – and no one had heard of him.