ONLINE dating has surged in popularity among over-45s in recent years, helping many people find the perfect partner.
But the search for romance in later years is not without its risks, and it’s not just a broken heart you could end up with if it all goes wrong.
Older people’s charity Age UK is among the organisations behind a drive to warn people of the dangers of dating fraud.
These cases are particularly cruel as often people believe they have built up a close relationship with a man or woman who then cons them.
In 2016, nearly £40m was lost through dating fraud, with the average victim hit for £10,000.
This could just be the tip of the iceberg, as many people are thought to be too embarrassed to report incidents.
The average age of victims is 49, while 61% are women.
People may lose their money quickly as they are swept up in what they think is the start of a romantic relationship.
It typically takes just 30 days from the first date for the victim to make a payment to the fraudster.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK director, says victims should contact Action Fraud, which has a cyber crime reporting centre.
“It’s really positive that older people are joining dating websites, but we would urge them to be aware of the real risks and take basic steps to stay safe online,” she says.
“Feelings of loneliness and a desire for companionship can increase an older person’s vulnerability to fraudsters, which can end in financial loss, ill health and heartache.”
Here are some tips from the Online Dating Association:
Sudden declarations of love may sound nice, but other motives could be there. Use common sense and speak to a friend to get a second opinion.
If the person seems vague or acts inappropriately, proceed with caution.
Do not respond to requests for money and do not give out your bank or other personal details.
nBeware of anyone advising you to put your money into investment schemes.