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Around 7.8 million UK adults used online dating sites in 2016, up from just 100,000 in 2000.

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Photos used are often selfies of her wearing skimpy vest tops showing lots of cleavage.

Jane*, a middle-aged woman from Warwickshire, had a lucky escape a few years ago when she very nearly handed over a sizeable sum of money to an online scammer who did in fact claim to be an engineer.

Studies have suggested that anything between 35 and 50 per cent of all couples in the UK, now meet via the web.

What’s more, a study by dating site e Harmony, estimated that seven in ten couples will have done so by 2040 – with 55 to 64-year-olds experiencing the biggest boom (an expected 30 per cent rise between 20).

It was only when her money transfer was blocked due to a security alert around the man’s name that she realised something was wrong.

Not long after, Jane discovered an ex-colleague nearby had been scammed by the same man at the same time and she’d had a very lucky escape.

A new report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has found that last year, singles were conned out of £39 million by fraudsters they’d met on dating sites and apps.

One of the most common techniques is to build up trust with the person by messaging for weeks or even months before suddenly having an emergency - the fake person being mugged but their daughter needing urgent surgery, for example - and asking for money.

Jane Googled him and found what looked like an authentic Linked In page and social media profiles as well as information on the projects he claimed to be working on, which seemed legitimate.

After a couple of months, he said he had to go to the Middle East for an oil rig refurbishment and even sent Jane pictures of him in his hardhat on the rig. But she was feeling vulnerable after the breakdown of her marriage and agreed to transfer him a smaller amount, despite admitting it sounded “crazy”.

But then they suddenly need money for rent too, then food, then medical fees, and it can quickly escalate.

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