POLICE have issued a warning over fraudsters targeting vulnerable women on dating websites after one lonely heart was conned out of £2,000.

A 52-year-old woman was persuaded into sending £2,000 to a man from Bury she met while online dating.

Feeling lonely after the breakdown of a long-term relationship, the woman had joined website girlsdateforfree.com.

It allows people to join for free, view other people’s profiles and swap messages. Facebook details can also be linked.

She was contacted by a man who claimed to be a Bury widower whose wife had died from cancer a year before. He said he worked overseas and swapped email addresses and phone numbers.

They spoke every day and the woman was hopeful of a new romance.

But pleas for money started with the man saying he was in Nigeria with a credit card that had failed.

He needed a flight home, to get to her, and the cost of the flight kept increasing.

The woman, who lived in Warrington, sent 10 payments using MoneyGram before her suspicions were aroused.

After contacting police she was told she had been scammed, and broke down in tears.

DC Victoria Date, from Cheshire Police’s financial investigation unit, investigated the case.

She said: “The victim said she is normally so careful and is surprised and angry with herself for allowing this man to manipulate her. She said his stories were so detailed and far-fetched she had not imagined that they were untrue.

“The victim has said she will now stay away from dating websites and urges other women to take heed of the advice on the sites about not sending money.”

The unit is warning women not to send money to men they meet on dating sites.

DC Date added: “The men will provide detailed local information, telephone numbers and addresses but they are all fake. The men are part of a bigger scam and their 'job' is to meet vulnerable women on dating sites and swindle them out of their money. Once the money stops the men disappear.”

Anyone with information on dating scams should call police on 101.