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Around 7.8 million UK adults used online dating sites in 2016, up from just 100,000 in 2000.But just as dating app users are at an all-time high, so is the number of people becoming victims of online dating fraud.
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.
“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.
"The wonderful Press which covered the story led them to me and enabled them to share their experiences when they haven’t felt able to do so before.
"It has absolutely clarified to me that it was the right decision to go public with my story.
After newspaper interviews and TV appearances, numerous other people have come forward with their stories.
She said: "I have had far too many messages from other women and men who have had similar experiences.
"It has been really hard at times, especially with the victim-bashing that follows this kind of story, but that doesn’t faze me.
“People who need support in this kind of situation motivate me to keep going.” Anna lost her job as a teaching assistant at Ethelbert Road Primary School in Faversham as a result of the publicity, but insists she has no regrets about launching the petition.
A new report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has found that last year, singles were conned out of £39 million by fraudsters they’d met on dating sites and apps.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating