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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.He claimed to be a widower in his late-40s with a teenage daughter.Julie, then 47, believed he was from the American Midwest, a career soldier and an animal-lover who was fond of travel and looking for a long-term relationship.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.He says: ‘I was encouraged to take up a hobby and have been ballroom dancing several nights a week.

But so sophisticated was the scam that Kerry produced a plane ticket, visa and other paperwork that all appeared genuine.

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’.

He told her he needed to buy himself out of the army and asked for thousands of pounds. It was only when her sister became suspicious that she got in contact with the American Embassy to check his credentials.

Her sister told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Within 24 hours they confirmed he didn’t exist.

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