Singles in the UK were conned out of a record £39m last year by online fraudsters.
The figures show the continued rise of dating fraud in the country, which affected 3,889 victims last year.
This figure has risen from 2,824 in 2013, when there was a total reported loss of £27m, compared to £32m in 2014 affecting 3,295 victims
Interestingly, although the number of reports in 2015 increased to 3,363, total losses actually fell to £25.8m.
In 2016, however, this figure spiked again, growing by over £13m to £39m.
UK cybercrime reporting centre Action Fraud said it receives over 350 reports of online dating scams every month.
Speaking about the trend, Action Fraud’s deputy head Steve Proffitt said each victim loses an average of £10,000.
Proffitt told the BBC: “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.”
According to the Office for National Statistics, fraud is the most common crime in the UK, with nearly one in 10 adults falling victim to scams.
Cyber-psychologist professor Monica Whitty said: “It is not the case that stupid people fall for romance scams – they can be very clever.
“The criminal talks to them morning, noon and night. They use email to send poetry, they use instant messenger to groom them, to talk to them, to keep them awake at night.
“So they groom them until they’re ready to give up money.”
Nick Tsinonis, the co-founder of fraud detection software company Scamalytics, said: “Online scammers are being increasingly more evasive and sophisticated. Dating services need to constantly evolve their defence systems to keep on top of them.
“We know the same teams of scammers move from one dating service to another, so sharing fraud data and intelligence is one of the most effective ways of preventing known scammers finding new victims on under-protected dating services.”
Check out our interview with the co-founders of Scamalytics below: