" But to my mind, I had developed a trust with this person.'Mrs Fowkes, who has two grown-up sons, first began writing to Hawkins in April 2010 after joining a dating website.
He told her that while he was living in Britain, he was currently doing engineering work in Nigeria.
We talked about everything under the sun – families, relationships, hobbies, interests, pets, our past.
I completely trusted him.'Mrs Fowkes only realised something was wrong when police turned up on her doorstep in November 2010.
How many marriages a day do Internet dating sites generate?
Last year, the Wall Street Journal tried to cut through the hype and found that the claims put forth by major players such as e Harmony, and Plenty of Fish were dubious at best.
Nancy*, a 47-year-old single mother from North Yorkshire was conned out of over £350,000 that way: “I wasn't comfortable, and then I got so far in I couldn't get myself out, and I didn't want to walk away having lost £50,000 or what-have-you, so you keep going in the hope that you're wrong and this person is genuine,” she explained to the BBC.
What better way to get into someone’s wallet than through their heart?And growth is what the paid online dating business is sorely lacking.There's no question that as the Internet matured, many singles flocked to paid dating sites and made them attractive things to own and build.However, he never arrived, claiming he had been prevented from leaving Nigeria because of an unpaid tax bill.Two weeks later, he called again saying he was unable to pay the bill because his money was tied up in the UK – and asked for her help.'When he spoke he had a slight South African accent, which I found quite endearing."Unlike other dating websites, it's my commitment to operate our business ethically.This means caring about your privacy, encrypting identifiable data, and never employing fake profiles or software bots.Around 7.8 million UK adults used online dating sites in 2016, up from just 100,000 in 2000.But just as dating app users are at an all-time high, so is the number of people becoming victims of online dating fraud.An article recently published in the Wall Street Journal called online dating scams an epidemic.In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission created a separate category for them, called romance scams.