Social media, and particularly Facebook, are very popular with scammers seeking to contact targets.

Love may be in the air on February 14 but Saint Valentine’s Day is also peak time for scamming lonely hearts for money, an Australian government body warned on Monday.

Romance scams cost victims more money than any other form of cheating, with those aged over 45 more likely to be stung, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said. Social media, and particularly Facebook, are very popular with scammers seeking to contact targets.

Last year 4,100 Australians contacted the commission’s Scamwatch service to report dating and romance swindles and more than AUS$25 million (US$19 million) was lost – the largest sum for any type of scam in Australia. Reports of dating and romance scams increased by more than a third in 2016, the ACCC said, and the amount of money reported lost rose by about $3 million compared to 2015.

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