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Last year there were 3,363 reported cases of dating fraud, up 2pc on the previous year.The sums lost totalled £24m, according to police figures.

Fraud has also soared by 27 per cent though overall crime is down by 9 per cent on last year - the lowest level since the Crime Survey for England and Wales began in 1981, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The ONS identified decreases across all the main categories of victim-based crime compared with the previous year, except for theft from the person, which went up nine per cent, and sexual offences which rose by 1 per overall, with a 2 per cent increase in rapes.

“Not only do people need help and support if they fall victim to a scam, but they also need to know where to turn to find out how to avoid falling victim in the first place.”While anyone can fall for a scam, it is often the elderly who get swindled out of their money.

In fact, new findings from secure online payment site, Ukash.com, reveal that almost a quarter of carers know of an elderly person who has fallen victim.

Scammers will try to find their victims on dating websites, apps or social media.

They’ll specifically seek out people looking for love and pretend to be interested in them.

Fraudsters create realistic profiles made up of stolen photographs and fake details before speaking to a target for a number of weeks.

Once they’ve gained their victim's trust, they ask for money for a range of often emotive reasons.

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.

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