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He even called the immigration number on her documents.

Unfortunately, it was an accomplice at the end of the phone. He says: ‘I got into debt, but she said she would pay me back.’When Kerry said she could not get the flight to visit him without yet another payment to ‘immigration’, David finally sought advice and learnt he had been scammed. Devastated, he turned to Victim Support to help him get back on his feet emotionally, and to debt charity Step Change to sort out his debts.

He says: ‘I was encouraged to take up a hobby and have been ballroom dancing several nights a week.

It has been great as therapy and for making friends.‘I’ve only just started to be able to trust people again.

Female victims are usually hooked with profiles of middle-aged men.

They are often of average appearance, wearing shirts with button down collars, and who claim to have solid jobs in the likes of medicine, the military or engineering.

The warehouse worker is still piecing his life and finances back together three years on.

David, 58, turned to online dating after the break-up of a long-term relationship.

The average time it takes for someone to start sending money to a fraudster is 30 days.Although people of all ages and genders are potential targets, analysis suggests that most victims of relationship fraud are men and women in their 40s and 50s.Winchester says scammers typically use photos of classically attractive women, often blue-eyed brunettes aged about 30, which are lifted from glamour websites, to reel in 50-something males.It would be nice to have romance, but I will never go near another dating website.’Another victim who is also wary of the internet and has not used social media since she was scammed is ‘Julie’ – not her real name.Three years ago, Julie signed up to a dating website and fell for a ‘tall, dark and very handsome man in uniform’.

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