People might wax nostalgical about the good old days when it comes to wooing, but it turns out that old-fashioned methods are alive — and being used to lure the lovestruck into handing over their money.
Conmen on online dating sites are using templates inspired by old love letters to entice daters to part with their cash in elaborate fraud schemes, resulting in a reported 3,900 people being scammed for an average £10,000 ($12,500) in 2016.
The new report, which comes from the City of London Police and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, reveals that on average, money is transferred within 30 days of initial contact with the perpetrator.
Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of dating apps such as Tinder, fraudsters have another means to trick forlorn suitors into handing over their cash. This method of crime has risen nearly 50 per cent since 2015, says thisismoney.co.uk.
Criminals can purchase scam "packs" containing love-letter templates, photos, videos and false identities for as little as a few dollars on the dark web, Professor Alan Woodward, cybersecurity expert at Surrey University, told the BBC.
"So many people fall for these scams that the price of the packs has dropped as it has become a high-volume sale," he said.
The average victim of a dating scam is 59 years old, with 61% being female, while 66% of the suspects were male. Some 213 people have said they were the victim more than once.
In a new campaign to raise awareness of the crime, Date Safe has suggested that hapless singletons search any questionable phrasing online to see if their potential love interest is genuine.
They advise caution when first speaking to a person online, as well as not moving the conversation off the site or app in question until you are sure of their identity.
Furthermore, the group insist on never sending money to a person only known in an online life, regardless of the circumstance. Dating fraud is reported every three hours in the UK, according to getsafeonline.org.