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Be wary of online romance scams

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Criminals are continuing to use online romance scams to leave Australians broke and broken-hearted.

The emotional nature of online romance scams can make it hard to recognise the difference between scammers and people who have a genuine interest in you.

How online dating scams typically work

Many romance or dating scams are pursued online. Online dating sites and services are common starting points for scammers, but they will also use any other options available, such as email or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as mobile apps like Tinder.

Scammers will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, such as showering you with loving words, sharing ‘personal information’ and even sending you gifts. They may take months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come. Once they have gained your trust and your defences are down, they will ask you (either subtly or directly):

  • for money, typically this will be presented as an entirely understandable need, such as a medical emergency or to purchase tickets to visit the victim.
  • your banking details to send money into your bank account and then to transfer it onto someone else.

Do not agree to transfer money for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offence.

Requests for money can be slowly introduced and may take many months to emerge, in an attempt to not look suspicious. Scammers may even deny initial offers of money.

Regardless of how the relationship progresses, any request for money, or for you to receive funds and forward these onto another party for them should be cause for alarm.

If you are ever asked for money through a relationship you have online, or if you suspect you are the victim of a scam or identity fraud, you should contact your bank immediately and report it to ACORN, the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.

This information is brought to you by South West Credit, Warrnambool's Home Loan Centre 

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