She was all set to meet him at the airport when he suddenly messaged saying his funds had dried up and he needed £5,000.
“I just couldn’t believe that was what he was saying,” Jane told .
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.
And a lot of the time, you’re not just talking to one person behind each profile - you could be exchanging messages with a circle of fraudsters acting together, according to KIS Finance.
Photos used are often selfies of her wearing skimpy vest tops showing lots of cleavage.
Jane*, a middle-aged woman from Warwickshire, had a lucky escape a few years ago when she very nearly handed over a sizeable sum of money to an online scammer who did in fact claim to be an engineer.
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.
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.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.“A lot of the online dating fraudsters we know are abroad.Jane Googled him and found what looked like an authentic Linked In page and social media profiles as well as information on the projects he claimed to be working on, which seemed legitimate.After a couple of months, he said he had to go to the Middle East for an oil rig refurbishment and even sent Jane pictures of him in his hardhat on the rig.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?If you find the picture is a fake, report the profile to the dating site immediately.Watch out for inconsistencies and repetition too - if you’re talking to a team of scammers, they’re bound to forget what’s previously been said and slip-up occasionally.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.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.