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22-Apr-2020 06:52 by 3 Comments

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And it’s not just particularly vulnerable people who fall victim either.

Jane Googled him and found what looked like an authentic Linked In page and social media profiles as well as information on the projects he claimed to be working on, which seemed legitimate.

Jane*, a middle-aged woman from Warwickshire, had a lucky escape a few years ago when she very nearly handed over a sizeable sum of money to an online scammer who did in fact claim to be an engineer.

Her interest was initially piqued when he seemed to have a similar background and heritage to her and they chatted for almost two months, often exchanging messages for at least two hours an evening.

“I just couldn’t believe that was what he was saying,” Jane told .

But she was feeling vulnerable after the breakdown of her marriage and agreed to transfer him a smaller amount, despite admitting it sounded “crazy”.

Around 7.8 million UK adults used online dating sites in 2016, up from just 100,000 in 2000.

But just as dating app users are at an all-time high, so is the number of people becoming victims of online dating fraud.

Nancy*, a 47-year-old single mother from North Yorkshire was conned out of over £350,000 that way: “I wasn't comfortable, and then I got so far in I couldn't get myself out, and I didn't want to walk away having lost £50,000 or what-have-you, so you keep going in the hope that you're wrong and this person is genuine,” she explained to the BBC.

Nancy is now facing bankruptcy, and although her case is extreme, the average victim of online dating fraud loses £10,000 according to Action Fraud.

So what can you do to avoid being a victim of an online dating scam?

Jane advises meeting up with someone sooner rather than later - more often than not, scammers are based abroad and won’t be able to meet you.

“A lot of the online dating fraudsters we know are abroad.