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If the guy agrees, the "lady" pretends to put all effort into making "her" travel arrangements. " She" acts surprised to find out that there are various expensive requirements that " she" has to comply with before she can fly out of the country.

Those supposed requirements usually include proof of financial independence and requirement to pay off all loans that "she" has in her name.

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Colin Woodcock, senior manager for fraud prevention at the agency, noted that the research found 52 per cent of people had heard of online romance scams, showing ‘progress has been made in raising awareness’.

‘By being aware of how to stay safe online, the public can ensure they don’t join those who have lost nearly every penny they had, been robbed of their self-respect and, in some cases, committed suicide after being exploited by these criminals.

It's called the "cashing out" stage, and it's where scammers start to ask for money.

Up until now, scammers were instructed to turn down any requests for a Skype call, but if the target insists, then they should ask him to pay for a webcam.

Then they will ask the target for thousands of dollars in order to run away and escape forever.

That's the final step, as the scammers leave with thousands of dollars, and the storyline has finished.

The researchers say ‘rom cons’ are particularly traumatic because of the ‘double hit’ of losing money and what victims had hoped was a romantic relationship. They then act swiftly to move the ‘relationship’ away from the monitored sites to personal online services such as private email accounts to carry out the fraud, claiming to be in dire financial straits or needing urgent funds that they promise to pay back.

Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting and advice centre, identified 592 victims of the crime in 2010. But the losses can be as high as £240,000, according to the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

This screenshot shows a user of a hacker forum being advised that a quick way to find sets of photos is to automatically download them from Facebook: Even before a scammer messages you, you can spot they're fake by checking their photos.

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