Fraudsters in Southern and Eastern European countries set up ghost accounts, often claiming to be soldiers on tour or nurses working in remote locations, giving an excuse for not being in regular contact with their victims, who they meet on dating sites.The owners of the fake profiles then hit a tragedy, a family bereavement or medical emergency, and ask victims to send money through hard-to-trace methods like money transfer services.
Europol's chief financial officer, Igor Angelini, says dating fraud is becoming an increasingly international problem.
He has worked on cases in the past where Nigerian and Romanian gangs have collaborated to share resources and expertise, he says.
In a recent operation, Italian police seized more than €2.5 million and arrested 10 members of a Nigerian scamming gang who were trawling dating websites for wealthy victims as well as committing other types of online fraud.
Angelini says it is difficult to put a number on the total cost of dating frauds due to victims' embarrassment at coming forward "Unfortunately in many occasions the victim is not inclined to report this particular type of fraud," he says.
Though exact figures are hard to come by, £32m (€43m) was lost last year by online daters in the UK alone, according to government monitors Action Fraud.
Woodward says those most susceptible to these scams are older, perhaps divorced Western Europeans with disposable income.A Frenchman came within three weeks of allowing a €73 million lottery win to evaporate after carrying the winning ticket around in his wallet for a month, the lottery company said Wednesday.The man from northeastern France, an online subscriber to Euromillions, hit the jackpot on December 2nd, but he had stopped routinely checking his numbers. "It's a story with a happy ending," the man told Francaise des Jeux, who run the lottery in France.A National Lottery spokesman said: 'The National Lottery is making more millionaires than ever.Lotto has made more than 100 since October last year, including its four biggest ever, and now we have the third giant Euro Millions winner of 2016.'Just like every National Lottery game, Euro Millions helps to raise over £34m every week for good causes.This helps fund our athletes competing at Rio, the nation's arts and heritage, and the many thousands of projects in local communities across the UK.' The Martins joked about how they had to dash out to a local supermarket to pick up a £5 set of champagne flutes because they didn't have any when their friends arrived with a bottle of bubbly at their £176,000 semi-detached house in Hawick.