Valentine’s Day is here and if you are among the millions of Australians who use online dating or social media, you should be on the lookout for scammers taking advantage of lovesick singles.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning people to be careful about who they ‘friend’ online this Valentine’s Day.
Stats show that people are most likely to be preyed upon by romance scammers on social media.
Australians reported losses of $20.5 million to Scamwatch from dating and romance scams in 2017 with more than 3700 reports. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Women lost nearly twice as much money as men, and people aged 45 and over are most likely to be targeted.
Overall, people lost $9.7 million to dating and romance scams through social media – an increase of nearly 30 per cent compared to 2016.
“Social media has overtaken online dating sites as the most common way for dating and romance scammers to contact potential victims,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“If you’re going on social media, a dating site or app to find a potential Mr or Ms Right, it’s important to keep your guard up to a scammer’s advances.”
Follow these helpful tips to protect yourself online from a dating and romance scammer:
- Scammers create believable profiles to present themselves as an almost too good to be true ‘catch’. Use a Google Image search to check if their profile picture is genuine.
- If the person you are interested in says they are overseas, or can’t meet you right now for any reason, be suspicious. Their excuse may sound reasonable but it is usually a lie.
- Be careful when people profess strong feelings early on. Scammers want you to fall in love with them so they can abuse your trust and feelings to get money out of you.
- Don’t ever give money to someone you have only met online. Scammers spin sympathetic tales about why they need money but don’t fall for it.
- Don’t share intimate photos or use webcams in an intimate setting. Scammers use these photos or webcam recordings to blackmail their victims.
Have you ever fallen for a romance scam? What happened?