The $142 million dark side of Valentine’s Day: ‘It’s devastating’ | #datingscams | #russianliovescams | #lovescams

Aussies are being warned not to fall victim to romance scams ahead of Valentine’s Day. (Source: Getty / Westpac)

Aussies looking for love are being warned to remain vigilant for scammers ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Australians lost more than $142 million to romance scams in 2021, according to the .

NAB insights revealed the bank had seen a 17 per cent increase in the number of romance scams over the past year.

These scams involve criminals posing as sweethearts in search of love and approaching people on dating apps, social media platforms or text messages. The scammers work quickly to gain the person’s trust and then ask, persuade or pressure them to send money.

NAB executive group investigations and fraud Chris Sheehan said while many long-lasting relationships started online, it was important to know how to spot a scammer from a potential partner.

“These criminals prey on people looking to find love around Valentine’s Day and it’s devastating to see the effects romance scams can have on people, which can be both financial and emotional,” Sheehan said.

“It’s important to ask lots of questions of your would-be Romeo or Juliet. Scammers prefer to talk about you instead of themselves, so look for inconsistencies in their stories and speak to family and friends about the relationship.”

A growing number of Aussies were being tricked into sending money to fake admirers, according to Westpac’s latest scam report.

The report uncovered the cost of romance scams increased 26 per cent in 2022 and had quadrupled since 2020.

Westpac chart demonstrating how romance scams have increased.

Romance scams have ben on the rise in recent years. (Source: Westpac)

Westpac head of fraud Ben Young said fraudsters were adopting a new hybrid romance and investment scam approach.

“Scammers are using a new technique called ‘romance baiting’ to meet victims through online dating apps to develop a relationship before luring them into a fake investment opportunity,” Young said.

“These scams are challenging because they will groom victims over a number of weeks or months to obtain information and build trust. As people become emotionally invested, the warning signs become more difficult to detect.

“Fake investments are appealing to scammers because they attract big-figure returns. Never send money to someone you haven’t met in-person or spoken to via video call and always seek professional advice before making any investment decisions.”

Both Sheehan and Young said if you thought you’d been scammed, you should contact your bank immediately.

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