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The average individual loss was £8,500 with the biggest reported loss being £250,000.Men are just as likely as women to be victims but women are more likely to report the fraud.In August 2009 Philip Hunt of Grimsby committed suicide after accruing debts of £82,000 to help a woman in Nigeria whom he met on the internet.Last year mother-of-three Kate Roberts, 47, of Melton Mowbray, had to sell her home after losing £80,000 to a conman she met through Friends Reunited who claimed to be a soldier serving in Iraq.Total online fraud – including identity theft and mass-marketing and shares cons – cost the UK £4billion last year.Many criminal rings keep a “suckers’ list” so if you have been conned once your details may be given to other thieves.He was taking his daughter as he had nobody to look after her and wanted to stay in touch while he was away.I thought there might be the potential for a relationship but I am certainly not the kind of person to fall for someone I have never even met.

But when I learned about the scale of these crimes – warehouses full of scammers inventing the sort of story I’d been told – I realised I had to go public to raise awareness of this despicable type of fraud.

Still in Africa, Bradford was beset by one disaster after another.

He desperately needed £22,500 to pay the port authority to release the consignment of computers he was waiting for, otherwise the deal would fall through.

"The past year has been incredibly difficult and I’ve needed counselling to cope but in some ways I was lucky.

I lost savings rather than my livelihood and escaped without getting my heart broken too.

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