More than three-quarters-of-a-million pounds was lost by victims of romance scams in Suffolk last year, according to a new study.

Victims sent an average £13,483.05 to manipulative fraudsters under false pretences.

Women made up three quarters of victims, while those aged 50-59 were also the most likely to be affected. 

Suffolk’s top Trading Standards officer said the latest figures likely underestimated the real number of scams, with many victims finding it too difficult to come forward.

The study, by online security website TechShielder, found that 5,027 cases were reported across the UK in 2020, including 59 in Suffolk.

Gloucestershire recorded the highest average loss per victim (£24,638), followed by North Wales (£18,966) and Gwent (£14,257).

Romance scams usually involve a fraudster creating a fake online profile to attract, and eventually defraud victims over the internet.

Graham Crisp, head of Suffolk County Council’s Trading Standards,…

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