Internet dating and romance scams

Most victims are aged between 40 and 70 and come from all walks of life.

They are often lonely people at a vulnerable stage in their lives, still mourning the loss of a spouse, for example, or trying to come to terms with a divorce.

Recently, they have been joined by con artists from the East Asia and Eastern Europe.

When online, they pretend to be a different person.

So, be on your guard when you receive a request from a friend.

For dating scammers, Facebook is an ideal tool, giving them plenty of information about the daily lives of their targets and how to approach them.

Grooming process Once the first contact has been made, the con artists will start pampering their victims with fake love, sweet-talking their way to their heart and their money. They’re very sophisticated and will go to great lengths to build a relationship with their victims, spending a lot of time communicating with them, trying to find out where their weaknesses lie.

'Her' name was Aleksandra and 'she' was young and pretty with a long, dark mane of hair and dark brown eyes.

She contacted Dave (not his real name) on dating site Zoosk in November last year, telling him she was a 32-year-old Russian woman eager to pursue a serious relationship.

The scammers reveal a great deal about themselves and invite their victims to be open and sincere too.

Their method resembles the tactics used by young pimps, known as lover boys in Dutch, who lure underage girls into prostitution.

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