Aug. 23, 2007 — -- More than 20 million Americans log on to their computers each month looking for love, according to Online Dating Magazine.
While getting to know a potential mate from the privacy of their home may be comforting to some — especially single women getting back in the dating pool — it is not without danger. A growing number of sexual predators and pedophiles are taking advantage of online anonymity and using dating sites to prey on single mothers and their children.
One single mother, who asked that her identity be withheld to protect her daughter, had such an experience.
She met her future husband online and within in six months, the couple were living together. Two years into the relationship they married.
"At the time, it just seemed magical," she said. "It was the dream come true."
But FBI agents said they discovered the man's true intentions when an undercover agent intercepted his e-mails during an online chat. "These e-mails indicated that he actually married the mother to have access to the child," said FBI Special Agent Deborah McCarley.
Police said lonely women looking for companionship can be easy targets. In this case, the man took advantage of the mother's vulnerability to get to her 6-year-old daughter.
"I think I was really looking for someone to rescue me, although I didn't recognize it at the time," the mother said.
The mother said she decided to speak out for the first time on "Good Morning America" to help other women.
The woman said she had no idea any abuse was taking place and saw no warning signs until the day the FBI knocked on her door.
"That day I felt like somebody stuck a straw in my ear and sucked out my brain," she said. "It really just felt like I had been punched in the stomach."
A tape obtained by "GMA" captured her anguish as she confronted her husband on the phone.
Mother: How could you do this to me?
Husband: How could I do it to anybody? I don't know.
Mother: How could you do it to her?
Husband: I'm sorry. I have no answer.
Mother: I trusted you!
Husband: I know. You're right.