The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned that scammers are looking to trick unsuspecting computer users through bogus Valentine's Day emails.
The OFT said that scammers are searching lonely hearts columns and dating sites to look for potential victims.
"Scammers use the trust gained to persuade victims to part with large sums, with some frauds going on for years," the organisation said.
"This typically involves saying they would like to meet you but are stranded and don't have money to travel or cover visa costs. They may also say that they or a family member require urgent treatment for an illness."
The situation is so bad that the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has become involved after one case in which an individual was kidnapped after visiting West Africa to meet their 'Valentine'. Others have been fleeced for large sums of cash.
"No-one should fear using the internet to meet people, but criminals will look for opportunities everywhere and the internet is no exception," said Soca deputy director Sharon Lemon.
"You wouldn't hand your bank account details or your house keys to someone you met on the street, and using the internet safely just needs the same kind of care. There is plenty of good straightforward advice from sites like Get Safe Online. You don't have to become a victim."
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