LONDON: Several years after her husband died, Tina felt ready to move on with her life. Encouraged by her friends, she joined an online dating site for the over-50s, and was approached by Andrew.

A handsome widower with silver hair and a broad smile, he said had lost his wife at around the same time. They formed a close bond and were soon exchanging phone messages every day, swapping photos of their families and making plans to meet when he returned from working overseas.

The connection felt real — but the photos were stolen, used to create a fake profile. Tina was not only heartbroken, but financially broken — over the course of their online relationship, she’d been persuaded to lend “Andrew” more than £80,000 (US$111,300).

The ugly truth is that romance scams have soared during the pandemic as millions of lonely people turn to online dating, perhaps for the first time.

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