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But then they suddenly need money for rent too, then food, then medical fees, and it can quickly escalate.
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.
“[It’s] not the case that stupid people fall for romance scams - they can be very clever,” Professor Monica Whitty, a cyber-psychologist, explains. Scamalytics, a company which runs anti-scammer software for a number of the major dating sites, are trying to reduce online dating fraud by creating profiles of the average male and female con artist.
By analysing the top 3,000 scammer profiles (that is, those they’ve come across most frequently in profiles blocked by their software in the last year) they’ve discovered what constitutes the ‘most attractive’ female and male propositions to those targeted by romance scammers.
If you’re suspicious, turn to Google: search their name and “dating scam” or do a Google image search to see whether they’ve taken someone else’s picture or one that’s easily available online.
Serious fraudsters sometimes even create further fake profiles and use them to be rude to you, all to make the main fake profile seem more desirable.
And it’s not just particularly vulnerable people who fall victim either.
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?