Hapless Canberrans chasing the promise of romance lost $1.18 million falling for dating scams last year, according to a new report.
Dating and romance scams were by far the most damaging in 2014, accounting for half the total $2.254 million lost in the ACT.
Data released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Monday showed a reported 68 dating and romance scam contacts with Canberrans last year.
Just under half of those were successful in securing at least some money.
Twelve of the dating scams duped Canberrans out of $10,000 or more, and the 31 successful dating scams netted an estimated $1.18 million.
Many victims are considered to be particularly vulnerable to dating and romance scams, and other "relationship scams".
Such frauds rely on the perpetrator building up a strong relationship with, or grooming, their victim after meeting online, before manipulating the target for financial gain.
Typically, the fraudster will pretend to be a westerner who is living abroad for work, and ask for money for plane tickets, visa applications, medical expenses, government fees, or other elaborate and endless reasons.
The ACCC says there will always be an excuse why the scammer cannot meet their victim.
Some scammers will wait months before making their first play for money, and relationships can run for many years, according to the ACCC's 2014 scam report, released on Monday.
"The more a victim invests, the less likely they are to end the deceptive relationship for fear of losing everything," the report said.
In total, there were 3121 scam contacts recorded in the ACT by the ACCC last year, accounting for just three per cent of the national total.
Only 11 per cent of the scams managed to extract money from Canberrans.
The next most lucrative scam type was the use of computer prediction software and so-called "sports investment scheme" scams.
These are based on claims that the scammer has developed software that can predict the outcomes of sporting events, mostly horse races, or forecast share movements.
National scams total continues downward trend
Nationally, the ACCC estimates a total of $81.83 million was lost in scams in 2014.
That's slightly less than the year prior, when $89.13 million was scammed, and continues a slight downward trend since 2013. The reductions come after a major spike in scams from 2010 to 2012.
But the commission warned the real amount of losses was likely higher, saying many incidents go unreported, and cautioning it was only one agency likely to receive reports that are made.
The vast majority of Australians, or 88 per cent, avoided losing money in the attempts last year.
There were no losses of more than $1 million, although there were 14 cases where $500,000 or more was lost.
Roughly half of the scams were delivered via phone and text message, while 25 per cent came through email and 10 per cent via the internet.
As in the ACT, dating and romance schemes were the most damaging across the country, netting fraudsters almost $28 million, despite only accounting for three per cent of all scam contacts.
Thankfully, Australians appear to be wising up to such frauds.
About 41 per cent of those contacted by a scam admirer lost money, down from 48 per cent in 2011.
The ACCC says such scams can cause significant emotional harm, damaging relationships with friends and family, as well as causing financial ruin.
It has warned Australians to keep their personal details secure, think twice about what they say and do online, keep their mobile devices and computers secure, choose passwords carefully, beware of requests for details or money, and get a copy of your credit report, which can be done for free each year.