Be wary of those romance scams
There are many success stories of people who have met through dating websites or apps and fallen in love but there are also some very sad tales of people falling victim to romance scams.
In 2019 Australians reported romance scam losses of more than $28 million, to the ACCC’s Scamwatch.
Australia’s consumer protection agencies are warning people to never send money to someone they haven’t met in person, and to be aware of the signs of a romance scam.
Scammers can spend many months sending messages of love and building up trust with a person before asking for money.
Romance scammers might say their money is stuck in a legal problem or they have a sick relative and they need funds to cover the medical costs.
Victims are often prepared to invest in the “relationship” and might send money for an airfare believing that the love interest will come and see them.
But while the victim is feeling loved-up, the scammer ends up being cashed-up.
Tips to avoid romance scams:
Do a Google Image search or TinEye reverse image search using the person’s photos to check if a profile is real.
Be wary if the person you’ve met online wants to move communications away from the dating website or app to another communication channel such as email or Facebook Messenger,
If they can’t meet you without needing money sent, and they make excuses about why they can’t travel to see you, it’s usually a scam. Many romance scam victims not only lose money, but they also experience fraud such as mobile phone accounts being set up in their name or their superannuation being accessed.
Anyone who’s given bank account details to scammers should contact their bank/financial institution ASAP.
IDCARE is a free government-funded service to support identity theft victims and reduce further damage. Visit www.idcare.org or call 1300 IDCARE (432273). For more visit national site: scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/dating-romance. Plus in WA we have www.scamnet.wa.gov.au and you can call 1300 30 40 54.
Tom Chapman is the senior regional officer for Consumer Protection in the Kimberley.
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