We’re still falling for the same lines when it comes to love.
The Australian consumer watchdog says Australians lost more than $25 million to dating and romance scams in 2013.
Last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received 2,770 reports of dating and romance scams, a 13.6 per cent rise on the previous year.
Reported losses also increased, rising by nearly $2 million to $25.3 million.
More than 400 people reported they had lost more than $10,000 and of those 64 reported losing more than $100,000.
“Scammers are experts at preying on people’s vulnerabilities, particularly around sentimental times of the year such as Valentine’s Day,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Forty-three per cent of people who came into contact with dating and romance scams lost money, one of the highest conversion rates of scams reported to the ACCC.
“Scammers go to great lengths to gain your trust, spending months and even years building a relationship with you,” Ms Rickard said.
“Once your defences are lowered, they spin an elaborate tale about how they need your financial help with a crisis, such as being ill or stranded and ask for money.”
Alarm bells should go off if they request money, especially via wire transfer, a type of payment almost impossible to trace.
“These scams can also pose a risk to your personal safety as scammers are often part of international criminal networks,” Ms Rickard said.
“Scammers have lured unwitting Australian victims overseas, putting people in dangerous situations that can have tragic consequences.”
A man was arrested in Nigeria this month in connection the death of a Western Australian woman. She was fleeced of more than $100,000 during a four year ‘romance’.
Ms Rickard said:
“If you are meeting locally in person, choose a public place and let family or friends know where you are at all times. Before taking that next step, run a Google image search using any photos provided by someone you met online as they may have been used in various profiles and could be a stolen identity. It’s quick and easy and could save you time, money and heartache.”
The ACCC has tips here
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