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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.

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.

The male profile is in his late 40s (48 is the most common age) with a high income.

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.

But then they suddenly need money for rent too, then food, then medical fees, and it can quickly escalate.

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.

Con artists are increasingly creating fake online profiles and tricking people on dating sites into handing over often large sums of money.He presents himself as a widower, with a degree and of average height (5’10”).He is most likely to have a career in engineering, has no interest in politics, a full head of light brown hair, and the photos are often taken at a slight distance.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.

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