Dating and romance scams often take place though online dating websites, apps or social media. They can be made up by experienced criminal syndicates (a group of people) or simply a lone wolf (a single person), aiming to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.
How does it work?
Scammers will often create realistic profiles on dating websites and will aim to gain your trust and friendship quickly.
They’re likely to express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time, and suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel. They’ve been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction, and will often claim to be from Australia or another western country, travelling or working overseas.
Scammers will say all the right things, share deeply personal information to gain trust and have been known to send gifts such as laptops, mobile phones and gift cards. They’ll often pretend they need money for a personal emergency, or so they can travel to meet you in person.
- The scammer is quick to declare strong feelings for you in a short period of time.
- The scammer wants to come and see you but can’t afford it.
- The scammer is experiencing an emergency and only you can help them.
- The scammer sends you gifts and asks you to redirect them somewhere else. This could be to cover illegal activity.
- The scammer asks you to send money via SWIFT or Telegraphic transfers, or transfers via Western Union.
- The scammer asks you to buy vouchers or gift cards, like iTunes cards.
- The scammer offers you a business deal that sounds too good to be true, like making money whilst sleeping or making a year’s salary in just a few months.
- The scammer claims to know a long lost relative of yours and wants to help you claim a large inheritance from a foreign country.
Things to remember
- If you agree to meet someone in person, make sure you let family and friends know where you will be going.
- Check their profile – see if your new friend has multiple profiles or has taken someone else’s image (you can do this via a reverse google image search).
- Don’t agree to transfer and receive money for someone else, it could be considered as money laundering.
- Be careful about the amount of personal information you share online with someone you don’t know, and avoid sharing anything that compromises your security or safety.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed
- If you have made a payment to a scammer, or think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. They may be able to stop the payment for you.
- If you’re worried about your computer being hacked, seek help from a qualified and reputable computer technician or update your anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Research first and only purchase software from a source you know and trust.
- Report your experience to cyber.gov.au. This helps us and other government agencies warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible.
- Tell someone you trust. Scams can be scary and they can really rattle your confidence. Most importantly, they aren’t your fault! It might help to talk things through with a trusted friend or family member.