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Sinister reason Aussie singles lose $37.2 million in February

Anastasia Santoreneos
·3-min read
Hand holding mobile with caution tape on heart and Danger online dating  on screen with clock and laptop at background.
Sinister reason Aussie singles lose $37.2 million in February. Source: Getty

Australians are set to spend a whopping $1.1 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts and experiences this year, but while love is in the air, romance scams are everywhere.

Aussies reported over 3,500 dating and romance scams in 2020, with around 35 per cent of those scams resulting in a loss, according to Scamwatch data. In total, singles lost a whopping $37.2 million to these kinds of scams last year - a large portion of which occurred in February.

These scammers often target Aussies looking for romantic partners on dating sites, apps and social media by pretending to be prospective companions.

However, they’re actually a cybercriminal using a fake identity to gain their victim’s trust, and eventually ask (or blackmail) them for money.

How do I know this person is a scammer?

According to American cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock, there are a few warning signs that the person you’re chatting to is a cybercriminal:

  1. They live far, far away;

  2. Their profile seems too good to be true;

  3. The relationship moves fast;

  4. They break promises to visit;

  5. They claim they need money;

  6. They ask for specific payment methods.

How can I avoid romance scams?

You don’t need to stop online dating altogether. But, by keeping tabs on any red flags mentioned above, you can stop scammers from stealing your money.

You can also:

  1. Approach online relationships slowly;

  2. Set up video/phone chats early;

  3. Not send compromising photos;

  4. Do your own snooping - like a reverse image search;

  5. Never pay someone you haven’t met;

  6. Refer them elsewhere if they ask for help;

  7. Stop communicating and report the incident.

Aussies to spend big this year

Aussies are set to spend big this year, with a Finder survey of more than 1,000 Aussies showing one-in-three expect to spoil their loved one this Valentine’s Day.

On average, each Aussie will fork out around $178, totalling $1.1 billion on gifts and entertainment to treat their special someone.

Aussies are set to spend the most ($427 million) on dining out, followed by $381 million on presents, $110 million on flowers and $76 million on chocolates.

How can I do Valentine’s on a budget?

If 2020 put your finances in a tough spot, there are plenty of ways to have a romantic evening without your bank account taking a hit.

“Something as simple as going for a romantic walk or having a backyard picnic is meaningful yet affordable,” Finder’s personal finance expert, Kate Browne said.

“There are countless ways you can show your partner that you care without having to spend up big.”

You can even opt to treat your partner to breakfast in bed, which is cheaper than a local café (and you don’t need to dress up), or cook a nice dinner and have a wallet-friendly movie night at home.

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