Online daters in the Hunter are being warned of potential scammers, particularly around Valentine’s Day, after financial criminals stole more than $40 million from Australians through dating websites and social media in 2023.
Pretending to be a real person seeking a relationship, scammers are robbing ordinary people of their hard-earned money in heartbreaking circumstances.
Often the false character spends weeks or even months gaining trust via dating platforms, before asking their new connection to invest their money or cryptocurrency in “opportunities” that turn out to be fake.
The behaviour has prompted the ACCC to create The National Anti-Scam Centre, a specialised team tasked with dealing with scammers.
The watchdog is warning how to spot the scan:
- Someone you don’t know contacts you through a dating app, website or social media, they show interest in developing a relationship with you, and follow this up with frequent messages expressing strong feelings for you
- When you’ve built trust with them, they tell you about an investment scheme or platform where you can make money easily. This often involves cryptocurrency
- They may offer to show you how easy it is to invest. You may even make a profit quickly from a small amount you’ve invested
How the scam works:
You meet a scammer on a dating app.
They ask you to start messaging on WhatsApp or another app.
They text or call you a lot to build a romantic relationship.
They start talking about making money through investing or buying cryptocurrency.
The scammer asks you invest or buy cryptocurrency.
If you run out of money or ask for it back, they disappear.
You can’t get your money back.
How to protect yourself:
STOP – Don’t give personal information or act on investment advice from someone you have only met online. If you have any doubts, stop communicating with them.
THINK – Do you really know who you’re communicating with? Scammers can use different profile pictures and lie about who they really are, especially online.
PROTECT – Act quickly if something feels wrong. Contact your bank immediately if you’ve invested money. Help others by reporting scams to Scamwatch.
If you’ve been affected by a scam, and you’ve lost money the ACCC advised contacting your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.
Contact the platform you were scammed on and let them know about the scam, and tell your friends and family, it helps to share your experience.
Other ACCC related stories:
Fruit and Veg prices need urgent ACCC enquiry, Littleproud Jan 2024
More than $1.2 billion lost in scams in 2022 – ACCC
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