LOOKING for love online could cost you more than a broken heart, police have warned.

A rise in the number of scams targeting people logging on to look for love in Worcestershire and Herefordshire has prompted West Mercia Police to issue the warning, as well as guidance on what to look out for. Last year, Tewkesbury woman Vicky Fowkes was conned out of £40,000 after falling for an internet scam through an online dating website.

A man, who claimed he was working in Nigeria, said he was prevented from returning home due to an unpaid tax bill he could not pay and that his bank cards had been stolen. Mrs Fowkes lent him money – but never heard from him again.

Robin Longmore, of the economic crime unit at West Mercia Police, said reports fell in the wake of the story.

“However, it appears we are being blighted by romance scams once again," he said. “There has been a big increase in recent months and we suspect some members of the public have lowered their guard and consequently more victims are being identified.”

Mr Longmore, a financial intelligence development officer, said victims were not just targeted by thieves, but could also be used to launder money from illegal activities.

“We are concerned that people are inadvertently acting as ‘money mules’ in such scams,” he said.

Anyone who thinks they have been targeted should report it either via actionfraud.police. uk/reportfraud, or by calling 0300 1232040.