Protect your heart this Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day scams target social media, online games

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COLD HEARTS: Be aware of scammers preying on lonely singles this Valentine's Day. Photo: Shutterstock.

COLD HEARTS: Be aware of scammers preying on lonely singles this Valentine's Day. Photo: Shutterstock.

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Don't add a scammer as a Facebook friend.

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FALLING in love with a scammer could leave you with more than a broken heart.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning people to be on the lookout for romance and dating scams in the lead up to Valentine's Day.

Last year, almost 4000 of these types of scams were reported, with loses of more than $28.6 million reported.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said scammers are no longer targeting those looking for love, with apps like Google Hangouts or online games being used to lure victims.

"We've seen an increase in reports from people who did not originally seek an online relationship but have been caught up in a dating and romance scam," she said.

"No longer are dating websites the only contact method for dating and romance scams, with an increasing number of reports coming from these emerging websites and apps."

"Romance scams are particularly devastating because not only are there financial losses, but there is also an emotional toll for the victim, which can have lasting psychological impacts on people," Ms Rickard said.

Scammers try to make their target fall in love with the persona they have created and quickly profess their love for the victim.

They will normally weave complicated stories about why they can't meet in person and ask the victim to send money or provide financial aid so they can travel to meet them.

While less common, there have also been instances of scammers meeting their victim in person and requesting money.

Stay safe

Ms Rickard said it was important to remain alert with interacting with people online.

"Don't give out personal information, including your financial details, to anybody you haven't met in person, no matter who they say they are, and don't share intimate photos or use webcams in an intimate setting," she said.

"Don't agree to carry packages internationally or agree to transfer money for someone else as you may be inadvertently committing a crime."

"If you become concerned by the conversation, such as if the person is asking for 'favours' or money, cease communication," Ms Rickard said.

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