Romance scams are on the rise with Australians losing millions of dollars every year to fraudulent online relationships. These scams often start innocently, with a seemingly genuine connection forming between two people, but over time the scammer will use this connection to extract money and sensitive information from their victims.
The best defence against a romance scam is to be vigilant and know the warning signs. Here's how to stay safe and spot a romance scam.
Be wary of sudden declarations of love.
If someone you've only just met online suddenly declares their love for you, it's a red flag. Scammers often use intense emotions to manipulate their victims and get them to send money or share personal information.
Watch out for requests for money.
Be suspicious if the person you're chatting with starts asking for money. Scammers often use excuses such as needing funds for travel or medical bills to get their victims to send money.
Check their story and background.
Scammers often use fake names and stories to create their online persona. Do some research to verify their claims, and if you can't find any information about them, consider it a warning sign.
Be wary of long-distance relationships.
It's not impossible for real, long-distance relationships to form online. However, scammers often use this as a cover for their fraudulent activities, so be extra cautious if you're communicating with someone who lives far away.
If something seems too good to be true or you're feeling pressured to act quickly, it's best to step back and re-evaluate the situation. Trust your instincts and if something feels off, cease all contact immediately.
How to report a romance scam.
No one wants to admit to being scammed, but if you have transferred money or provided your banking details to a scammer you must act quickly and contact your bank straight away.
You should also report the scam to the ACCC via the report a scam page. This will help to warn others and may also disrupt the fraudsters.
For more information about romance and dating scams visit scamwatch.gov.au.