One incident of dating fraud is now being reported around every three hours, according to an initiative warning of the dangers of con artists preying on people looking for romance.
Around seven reports of dating fraud on average are received every day by Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting service, equating to around one every three hours.
Typically, victims will make their first transfer of money to the fraudster within a month of contact. The average victim of dating fraud loses £10,000 according to the findings released ahead of Valentine's Day on Tuesday.
The figures were released as Victim Support, Age UK, the City of London Police, London Metropolitan Police and Get Safe Online said they would work in partnership with the Online Dating Association in efforts to better understand how fraudsters operate and reduce the number of people falling victim to dating fraud.
Tips for people using dating websites and apps using the hashtag #datesafe will be shared online.
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said that while many couples do meet online, the problem of cyber criminals targeting people for significant financial gain is growing.
He said: “£10,000 is a staggering amount for the average online dater to lose to a fraudster who they've been led to believe is the real deal. It's not just the financial loss though; dating fraud can have a huge emotional impact on a victim too.”
He said in some cases, people had lost everything – including their savings and their homes.