The scam typically works like this: A con artist, usually based in an Internet cafe overseas, will lift a photo from Facebook or another social networking site.
Once they’ve made contact, they will typically request to move the conversation to a private instant messaging service.
He or she will begin the courtship process by sending letters and love poems for a period of weeks and finally offer to fly to meet their victim.
An exotic stranger needs help, and you’re the only one able to provide it.
On any given day, a handful of those pleas still file into your email’s spam folder.
“A lot of the online dating fraudsters we know are abroad.
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.
It turns out that the crippling fear of an awkward first date is the least of your troubles.
A fraud is sweeping online dating sites, according to a special report in this month’s issue of Glamour Magazine.
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.
But in the last decade or so, the game of looking for love has gotten some new rules, with the venue moving from the bar world to the the cyber world.