Daters are advised to be careful with their information while looking for love online. Consumer and Business Services (CBS) is warning consumers of potential scams targeting consumers using dating and romance websites.
More than $20 million was lost last year to scammers targeting people looking for love on social media, email or websites. With scammers often creating very realistic profiles online, and sharing information which seems quite legitimate, it is easy to get caught out. Those most likely to be targets are over 45s looking for relationships and who are in a comfortable financial position.
Scammers will aim to gain your trust and friendship, and will then seek an opportunity to ask for assistance to pay for flights, medical bills etc.
Consumer affairs regulators are urging consumers to stay vigilant online, particularly while engaging with international persons. Follow these simple tips to help recognise a scammer:
- Be open to the idea that scammers are prevalent online.
- Be wary of anyone who asks you for money. This can happen within days, weeks or months of meeting someone online. Never transfer money via direct deposit, money order or international transfer.
- Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. You can do this via Google images by clicking on the camera icon on the desktop version of the site’s search bar. This can help you identify if the image has been taken from someone else, or belongs to a few people with different names.
- Be careful about the amount of personal information you share and avoid sharing compromising material, which scammers can use to blackmail you.
- If you agree to meet someone in person, make sure you let your family and friends know where you will be going.
While the 2017 statistics showed a decrease of financial loss of approximately $5m from 2016 statistics, the number of reports to the ACCC and Scamwatch also went down by almost 12%.
Reporting scams provides valuable information helping regulators to track the latest way scammers are trying to deceive Australians. For more information contact CBS on 131 882 or report online at scamwatch.gov.au.