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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.
They began chatting online, but it was not long before she suggested they move their communications off the website.
He says: ‘We help websites share intelligence, so if a scammer targets someone on one website this will be flagged up to others.’Classic signals that a fraudster is at work include the use of fake photos, culled from other websites, or overly elaborate language on their profile.
Winchester says: ‘Sometimes they use the same photos, but with different profiles, which is another red flag.’Many romance scams are even carried out by ‘bots’ – whose questions and responses are automated using artificial intelligence software.
A scammer’s classic ploy is to lure their target away from the relative safety of the dating website.
David says: ‘We started emailing each other instead.
Romantics are preparing for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday but Cupid’s arrow has a costly outcome for an increasing number of single people searching for a soulmate.