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Today’s Sound Off is about online romance:

Dear Heloise: I hope I can save someone else from the mistake I almost made. It’s a long story, but I established a romantic, long-distance relationship with a man overseas by signing up on an online dating service. He was very romantic and asked that we move offline because his membership was ending. He seemed very nice, and he would email me almost daily with all sorts of sweet, comforting things to say. He sent me flowers and flattered me, but something was off. I could just feel it.

After five months, he said he needed $12,000 for emergency surgery. He asked me if I could help him. I seriously considered it, but my best friend stopped me. So I told him “no.” He begged and cried, claiming he’d die without it. The following week, he said he’d found a doctor in France who would operate for free, but he needed plane tickets and money for expenses. I said, “No, and don’t call me again.”

After doing some research, I found that romance scams are alive and well. Several sites warn people not to send money to your online lover for plane tickets or any medical/surgical needs. Do not pay to retrieve anything, do not purchase them a computer or a cell phone, and do not pay their bills. If they say they need help with paying their bills, say “no.” It’s not your problem.

Be careful with your money when it comes to online romance, no matter how much they flatter you or tell you that they love and need you. That’s called love-bombing, and it’s as phony as a $3 bill. They might offer up marriage or talk about your lives together in the future. But it’s a scam, and many people have lost thousands of dollars to crooks like these.

Romance scams are on the rise, so make sure to take heed of any potential red flags. — Rose A., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Dear Heloise: Ava T. made a good point about securing your dog when driving. The same is true for cats. When I take my cats to the vet, I always buckle them in. This is easily done by feeding the seatbelt through the handle of the cat carrier. A little piece of mind is always good when it comes to our fur babies. I love your column, and I use many of your hints. — Sandra Greenough, via email


Dear Heloise: Want your dairy products to last a little longer? Try this: For things like sour cream and cottage cheese, store the product upside down on a plate in the refrigerator and make sure the lid is on securely. — Lois M., Troy, Michigan


Dear Heloise: I’ve used dental floss in my garden for years, and it does a very good job of holding up vines and securing plants to sticks as support. I’ve done this for my climbing roses and morning glories. — Denise F., New Castle, Pennsylvania


Dear Heloise: Spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to remind people to get their pets neutered or spayed before they have a litter.

Pets do not yearn for babies like a human does. It’s strictly biological. So please do yourself and your neighbors a favor and have this taken care of as soon as possible. — Callie W., Detroit


Dear Heloise: A reader said to eliminate water spots on glasses that you need to buy a high-grade water spot remover found online or in a cleaning supply store. I, my daughter and my friends just buy a shine dish detergent booster. No more spots or film. Follow the directions on the container. It’s readily available at most markets in the cleaning item aisle. It also works for a lot of cleaning needs, like scrubbing sinks and removing grey marks on plates without scratching them.

Good hints come from your readers. Thank you. — Russ S., via email

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