BE careful who you give your heart and your personal details to this Valentine's Day.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning people to be wary of romance scams.
Statistics show people are most likely to be preyed upon by dating and romance scammers on social media sites.
Australians reported losses of $20.5 million to Scamwatch from dating and romance scams in 2017 with more than 3700 reports. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Women lost nearly twice as much money as men and people aged 45 and over are most likely to be targeted.
Overall people lost $9.7 million to dating and romance scams through social media – an increase of nearly 30 per cent compared to 2016.
“Social media has overtaken online dating sites as the most common way for dating and romance scammers to contact potential victims,” said the commission's deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and while it’s a happy day for many, for some it can be quite lonely and isolating. If you’re going on social media, a dating site or app to find a potential Mr or Ms Right, it’s important to keep your guard up to a scammer’s advances.”
Avoid a scammer
- Scammers create believable profiles to present themselves as an almost too good to be true ‘catch’. Use a Google Image search to check if their profile picture is genuine.
- If the person you are interested in says they are overseas, or can’t meet you right now for any reason, be suspicious. Their excuse may sound reasonable but it is usually a lie.
- Be careful when people profess strong feelings early on. Scammers want you to fall in love with them so they can abuse your trust and feelings to get money out of you.
- Don’t ever give money to someone you have only met online. Scammers spin sympathetic tales about why they need money but don’t fall for it.
- Don’t share intimate photos or use webcams in an intimate setting. Scammers use these photos or webcam recordings to blackmail their victims.