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Love scams are all around

By Oonagh Reidy

Be careful with your heart – and your wallet – this Valentine's Day.

 

Last year, dating fraudsters conned Australians out of a jaw dropping $25 million – the largest amount of cash lost to any scam, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today warned.

 

Dating scams are rising sharply and are getting ‘increasingly manipulative’ with Aussies losing $3 million more in 2016 to romantic scams than the previous year, the watchdog has warned. 

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This is thanks to social media like Facebook – the most common way scammers target their prey – along with dodgy dating sites, forums and emails. The watchdog received 4,100 complaints about dating and romance scams last year.

Love at first type

 

However, Gen X – those aged 45 and over – are more likely to be the victim of dating scams than the younger generation who are avid users of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble.

 

Look for warning signs including inconsistencies in your potential lover’s story and beware if they declare their ‘love at first type’ quickly or ask for cash.

 

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“A scammer’s currency is ‘love at first type’ – they will use your emotions against you and leave you devastated financially and emotionally,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard warned.

 

 “Scammers create very believable profiles, including stealing the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad. If you meet someone who seems too good to be true, do some research to see if they’re the real deal,” Ms Rickard said.

 

Scamwatch tips

·       Never provide your financial details or send funds to someone you’ve met online. Scammers particularly seek money orders, wire transfers or international funds transfer as it’s rare to recover money sent this way.

·       Run a Google Image search to check the authenticity of any photos provided as scammers often use fake photos they’ve found online.

  • Be very wary if you are moved off a dating website as scammers prefer to correspond through private emails or the phone to avoid detection.
  • Don’t share intimate photos or use webcams in an intimate setting. The ACCC has received reports of scammers using such photos or webcam recordings to blackmail victims.
  • If you think you have fallen victim to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately and report it to www.scamwatch.gov.au