PEOPLE are being warned to be on the alert for dating scams after a woman was conned out of more than £10,000.

The victim, said to be 'vulnerable', was tricked by a man posing as a US Army captain in Afghanistan, who she met via an online dating agency.

The man, who built up the victim's confidence through romantic emails, convinced her to transfer £10,000 via Western Union to an untraceable bank account in West Africa.

This prompted Buckinghamshire Trading Standards to warn residents of the dangers of online dating agencies.

Jackie Eldridge, education officer, said: "A vulnerable Buckinghamshire lady has been scammed in excess of £10,000.

"The online Romeo took advantage of the anonymity of the internet and created a fake personal profile posing as a captain in the US Army."

Ms Eldridge reminded internet users not to give out personal data like bank details or to send money to people they do not know.

She added: "Common stories used by online dating scammers are that their mobile phone has run out of credit and they would like money to top it up, that they would like to meet you but do not have enough money to travel or that a family member requires surgery."

She added that police cannot recover money if the country it is sent to is out-side their jurisdiction.

Anyone who is a victim of a scam should report it to the dating website, she added. For advice call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.