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Photos used are often selfies of her wearing skimpy vest tops showing lots of cleavage.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.
They're in West Africa, Eastern Europe and it's very difficult for British law enforcement to take action against them in those jurisdictions,” Steve Profitt, Deputy Head of Action Fraud explains.
And a lot of the time, you’re not just talking to one person behind each profile - you could be exchanging messages with a circle of fraudsters acting together, according to KIS Finance.
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.
“A lot of the online dating fraudsters we know are abroad.
But she was feeling vulnerable after the breakdown of her marriage and agreed to transfer him a smaller amount, despite admitting it sounded “crazy”.
It was only when her money transfer was blocked due to a security alert around the man’s name that she realised something was wrong.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.After a couple of months, he said he had to go to the Middle East for an oil rig refurbishment and even sent Jane pictures of him in his hardhat on the rig.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.There was only one thing that seemed a little odd to Jane: his syntax occasionally seemed a little unnatural for a native English-speaker, and when they spoke on the phone, something about his voice didn’t seem to match his pictures.But just as dating app users are at an all-time high, so is the number of people becoming victims of online dating fraud.A new report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has found that last year, singles were conned out of £39 million by fraudsters they’d met on dating sites and apps.Not long after, Jane discovered an ex-colleague nearby had been scammed by the same man at the same time and she’d had a very lucky escape.So what can you do to avoid being a victim of an online dating scam?Con artists are increasingly creating fake online profiles and tricking people on dating sites into handing over often large sums of money.One of the most common techniques is to build up trust with the person by messaging for weeks or even months before suddenly having an emergency - the fake person being mugged but their daughter needing urgent surgery, for example - and asking for money.