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When we speak to victims they say they've been connected, prolifically in the initial stages, using extremely validating language and we are all suckers for it," she said."Being told how much they are loved, how wonderful they are …

they use that sort of validating language and the prolific nature of it, regular text messages not just through the day, but through the night."The victim is then expecting those validating messages to come through.

"They ask for a small amount, and over a period of weeks the person is totally in love and caught up with situation, but there is always an excuse," she said."The love interest works overseas, there is always some disaster that would prevent them from getting money to see the victim." The fraud is called an "advanced feed fraud" as the victim gives money expecting to get it back and all sorts of false ID is provided to let the victim believe they will get the money back.

Another trick is to isolate the victim from family and friends."The victim is so wrapped up in the story — friends and family will be much more wary and they have a completely different angle because they haven't been manipulated in the same way."It is critical for the criminal to isolate the victim, so they think their friends and family are being the wedge between their loving relationships."People are losing everything in these scams, from superannuation to life savings, and on top there is the loss of a person they believed was the love their life.

Ms Malet-Warden said studies suggested people were more trusting with online relationships than they would be face-to face.

"We are more trusting of online relationships because we are not seeing the non-verbal cues that might happen if we are sitting in front of somebody," she said.

But more often than not, singles are being fed pretend profiles—or worse—getting scammed.I spoke to a victim last week who was five years beyond the death of her husband and she said the scammer was so incredibly supportive, and that's what she fell in love with."She felt this nourishment.I think it is a very primal need, it is a very human thing."Ms Malet-Warden said there was suggestion scammers were being trained by psychologists to help them with scripting."I think anyone with the silver tongue, anyone who has the ability to be a smooth operator, it doesn't take that much," she said.Ms Malet-Warden said the first indicator was often a victim being asked to move off the dating site onto either Whats App, Viber or Messenger.Another tell-tale sign is if the person starts using "validating, loving, language quickly"."If this happens, think about it.

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