CHICAGO TRIBUNE's RED EYE -- Oct 24 -- Valerie signed up for Yahoo! Personals and found Prince Charming. But the promising online suitor who showered her with tender e-mails and bouquets of flowers turned out to be a scammer trying to bilk Benning out of tens of thousands of dollars. Barb Sluppick, co-founder of the 5,000-member Yahoo! Romance Scams group, conducted a survey that revealed a total of $2.6 million lost in romance scams among the 331 people who responded—about $7,800 per person. Most online dating scams originate from Africa, Russia and Eastern Europe, though Nigeria is the biggest offender, according to Mark Brooks who runs onlinepersonalswatch.com. Increasingly, Web administrators are trapping scammers before they strike, but the tricksters are unrelenting, Brooks said. "It's a bad situation because these guys have gotten increasingly sophisticated," said Nelson Rodriguez, head of loveaccess.com, where employees remove 20 to 30 suspicious profiles a day. "It's horrible for business because it's a loss of credibility.