Everything you need to know about romance fraud

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In life, it’s important build new connections online, possibly leading to a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, there are some who see this as an opportunity to gain your trust so they can steal from you. 

Known as romance fraud, more than 4000 Australians reported being a victim in the past year alone, with the average victim losing $19,000. 

If you aren’t aware of romance fraud, now is a good time to get familiar with what to look out for to have the best chance to protect yourself.

Romance fraud at a glance
The harsh truth about romance fraud is that scammers are deliberately looking to target those who are vulnerable in some way. This could be due to their age or those who have experienced loss or loneliness. 

Contrary to what you might think, the process isn’t as simple as their first interaction involving asking for money. That’s why so many people are easily caught out by fraud. Instead, it’s a subtle game of emotional blackmail that’s played out over a long time, often involving multiple victims. 

The fraudster is likely to befriend you, then build up to a romantic relationship. Then they will state they need money urgently for a false reason, such as for medical treatment or because they are about to lose their business. They may even encourage you to purchase fake gift cards or put money into a business that doesn’t exist. 

Their tactics are incredibly varied, but sadly share the same goal of trying to scam innocent people out of their hard-earned cash.

Staying safe online
Internet security does not stop at using antivirus protection. A simple Google search (or reverse image search) can usually tell if the person is genuine. If in doubt, block the person and report them to the platform. Make sure you are using the highest privacy settings, and use secure passwords that only you know. 

Even though it might feel awkward, it’s always wise to ask a friend or relative for their advice if you’re ever unsure. Listen to your gut instinct – if something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. 

Don’t be embarrassed to seek help
While we know romance fraud is increasing every year, what we don’t know is the true figure as not all victims come forward. 

If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, or if you have already been scammed, you should contact your bank and the police in the first instance. Any screenshots or similar evidence will be helpful in identifying the culprit. 

Beyond this stage, a lawyer may be able to help you. It’s important the person is not only identified but is prevented from doing the same to others. That’s why even if you’re embarrassed, you must seek help. 

To sum up
Romance fraud robs victims of their money and their confidence. In some instances, the mental damage can be far more severe than the financial loss. 

By educating yourself on what to look out for, you are in a better position to stop it happening to you and those around you.

Olivia Jones writes on behalf of Leanne Warren and Associates, one of Melbourne’s largest specialist criminal law firms.

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Written by Olivia Jones

8 Comments

Total Comments: 8
  1. 1
    0

    One simple rule: never give anyone you have never met in person, visited their home, know their family and their personal financial situation any money in any form. And when you have done all those things, still don’t give them any money. Don’t pay for flights (they will find the money if they are genuine), don’t pay for the sick mother’s treatment, don’t pay for medical costs for the accident they told you about, don’t pay for a visa just don’t pay. Tell them you will put them up and feed them whilst they are in Australia, its their job to get here, not your job to pay for it.

    Anyone who asks for money via gift cards (unless for a birthday or Christmas present when you can decide the amount) is up to no good! Don’t do it.

    • 1
      0

      But, KSS I so want to see you unfortunately I am a little short on readies at the present point in time. I am actually waiting for my 1st division Tattslotto payout, which is being a bit slow owing to Christmas and Coronavirus. So if you could just see your way clear to a short term loan of $10,000-00, which I will repay shortly. Then I will come for a much looking forward to visit. I am sure you want to see me as much as I would like to see you. Sooo send the bloody money now and don’t be a tight arse. By the way KSS all the best for New Year to you and yours.

  2. 1
    0

    Oh, my darling Casey how beautiful your are in the photos that you sent me without any clothes on and of coarse I will send you the money for your visa and your airfare but the funny thing is that on checking your IP address it shows that you are in Ghana and not on the Pacific Island that you claim plus on further checking those photos are of an American pornstar and as Ghana is in Africa I would say that you are a black man pretending to be a white woman just to get my money, so you can get ******

  3. 1
    0

    My Darling Casey, of course I will send you the money. Just as soon as my contact in Nigeria forwards the $250,000,000 they are holding for me. I have to send them $10,000 for ‘administrative costs’ so perhaps you could send me $5000 and then we could share the $250,000,000 and you could buy your own ticket to visit. I am happy to wait for your Tatslotto win to come through although there may be some urgency in Nigeria. I am sure it won’t be long now that the Christmas silly season is almost over and COVID here is almost under control.

    • 0
      0

      OK KSS. Not a problem I will transfer the $5000-00 direct into your account. I just need you to send me your bank details and password, and I will get right onto it.

  4. 0
    0

    No need for that my little sugar plum. Just send a cashier’s check C/o the local post office and I will collect at the same time I send the balance to Nigeria.

  5. 0
    0

    Ahah. Cashiers check! Gotcha you scammer. I knew you wouldn’t have a legit bank account, or Aussie address. Come on own up.

  6. 0
    0

    Your words are like a dagger to my heart my little cup-cake. Such a pity. I was so looking forward to your visit which I assume you will now cancel. Shame with the $250,000,000 coming from Nigeria, we could have had such a good time. Still I respect your decision. Plenty more fish in the sea as they say!


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