Online Dating Scam

28 September 2011, 08:40 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

More than 200,000 people have been conned by online daters, according to new research carried out in the East Midlands.

A new study by the University of Leicester claims criminals are using fake identities and stolen photographs to "groom" victims.

Some of those targeted have been forced out of thousands of pounds and even remortgaged their homes to free up cash.

It's the first academic study into the problem.

Researcher Professor Monica Whitty says the scammers are only interested in making money:

"Usually within a couple of weeks the scammer is saying to the victim that they've fallen in love with them.

"They send them romantic poetry via email; they will community with them in instant messenger, so they're always in that person's head."

Peter Wilson is from Action Fraud, the organisation that processes reports of online dating fraud:

"They are luring people in with a great sense of trust over quite a period of time, these are organised criminal gangs."