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"This includes never giving money to anyone – just as you would never give money to someone you recently met in a pub or café – and not sharing personal contact details that take conversations off the site," he said.Back in 2010, Brenda Parke, a 60-year-old retiree, was scammed out of £60,000 after joining an online dating site and befriending a man purporting to be a successful Dutch businessman called Bradford Cole.In July, the average payout was as high as £10,882.

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• Never reply to communications from someone who you meet on a dating site/chat room or social networking website that then wants continue the communication by email.• If you think a profile is fake, check the website for details on reporting it.They will then ask the victim to pay, and if they do, the fraudster might also ask them to pay for the flight. "Fraudsters claim they have found a box containing gold, silver, money and jewels (or any one of them) in the desert and have sent it out of the country to set up a future together with the victim," said Action Fraud UK."However, this box is now stuck in (x) country’s customs.Someone you have started to develop a relationship with online might first ask for money for travel costs, or say they have lost their plane ticket so need to borrow some cash for a new one.

They might say a family member is ill and they need funds for urgent medical treatment.

"My embarrassment is overwhelming but I feel that I must take this step in reporting my experience in order to help promote awareness and to help other innocents to avoid such devastating situations," she added.

Five scams on the rise in 2014 Protect yourself against dating fraud • Trust your instincts.

Ms Parke realised her mistake when Mr Cole failed to arrive at Birmingham airport where they had agreed to meet so that he could go to the bank with her and return her money.

"With great hindsight, I am fully aware of how utterly stupid I have been," said Ms Parke, "and I appreciate that there is little, if any, chance of getting my money back.

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