Last month I wrote about investment schemes. This month it’s all about love!
As more and more people move online to find love, romance scams are a growing part of the scam landscape.
Romance scams generally begin through social media or dating apps. Once you make the initial connection, the scammer will give you lots of attention and praise you with compliments. Victims have reported chatting to scammers online for hours each day. In developing a relationship that feels real it is easy to be caught up in their evil web of deceit.
Some people have even gone as far as to plan to get married as soon as they are able to meet face-to-face. During Covid when people were stuck at home and lonely this was a big part of the scam.
The secret to the success of this scam is that it is a slow-play. Only once the relationship has been established over weeks or months will the scammer then make their move and claim to be in financial trouble. They will then start saying things like “I need money to get back to Australia so I can be with you” or “My father is sick and I can’t pay his hospital bills”.
They may talk about getting a new job and then say, “Don’t worry I’ll pay you back as soon as I get this job.”
These are usually small amounts at first, but over time the requests can build to tens of thousands of dollars. You only realise you have been scammed when you question them, they then disappear without a trace.
So please be careful – I am not saying that you shouldn’t find love or companionship online – just need to be vigilant when doing so.
ASCCA Director – Marketing