Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details.

Warning signs

  • You meet someone online and after just a few contacts they profess strong feelings for you, and ask to chat with you privately. If you met on a dating site they will try and move you away from the site and communicate via chat or email.

  • Their profile on the internet dating website or their Facebook page is not consistent with what they tell you. For example, their profile picture looks different to their description of themselves.

  • After gaining your trust – often waiting weeks, months or even years – they tell you an elaborate story and ask for money, gifts or your bank account/credit card details.

  • Their messages are often poorly written, vague and escalate quickly from introduction to love.

  • If you don’t send money straight away, their messages and calls become more desperate, persistent or direct. If you do send money, they continue to ask you to send more.

  • They don’t keep their promises and always have an excuse for why they can't travel to meet you and why they always need more money.

Top tips to keep yourself safe:

  • Don’t take financial advice from anyone you’ve met on an app and never provide financial or personal details to someone you’ve only met online.

  • If you start speaking with someone on a dating app, stay chatting on the app as you have more protections than moving to a different chat platform. Scammers can be reported to the dating app and such profiles can be removed.

  • If you feel pressured by someone you’ve started chatting with, remember that you still have control and can stop communicating with them.

  • You can do an internet search of the person’s name or photo to help identify if it’s a scam.

  • Be aware of ‘Love bombing’ - a technique used by scammers where they profess feelings of affection for the victim, sometimes several times a day. As a result, victims begin to trust and develop feelings for the scammer, making them more vulnerable.

If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and alert the platform where you were scammed.

You might also want to read:

Misinformation and scamming

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Information sourced from ScamWatch/ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

Image credit: Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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