As St Valentine's Day approaches, Gardai are warning the public to be aware of "Romance" fraud.

75 such cases were reported to Gardai last year, by both male and female victims, with total losses of over €1 million.

Gardai say Romance fraud is enabled via online dating sites or other social media.

The victims develop online relationships with the fraudsters, who use fake identities, photographs and life stories to con their victims out of sums of money.

Fraudsters will ask for money, often starting with low amounts, for various reasons including medical expenses, tax bills, business opportunities, or for travel costs to meet the victim.

Gardai say that, in one case, and Irish victim who developed a relationship with a man on a dating website, sent him €62,000 over a period of time.

In another case, a victim linked up with a female in an online chat room and ended up sending her €50,000.

Gardai are urging people never to share person or banking details with unknown persons online, think twice before using a webcam as images can be used for blackmail, and anyone who has been a victim of such a crime should report it in confidence to the local Garda station.

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