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.

with ads soliciting men seeking women or women seeking men? Scam artists use dating sites or meet-up venues to prey on trusting singles.

But she was feeling vulnerable after the breakdown of her marriage and agreed to transfer him a smaller amount, despite admitting it sounded “crazy”.

It was only when her money transfer was blocked due to a security alert around the man’s name that she realised something was wrong.

The male profile is in his late 40s (48 is the most common age) with a high income.

He presents himself as a widower, with a degree and of average height (5’10”).

Con artists are increasingly creating fake online profiles and tricking people on dating sites into handing over often large sums of money.

One of the most common techniques is to build up trust with the person by messaging for weeks or even months before suddenly having an emergency - the fake person being mugged but their daughter needing urgent surgery, for example - and asking for money.

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.

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.