AN Adelaide man has been conned out of more than $150,000 in a romance scam, prompting police to warn about increasing levels of fraud activity.
Police identified suspicious money transfers, which led them to the victim’s place in Adelaide’s north last week.
SA Police Commercial and Electronic Crime Branch Detective Inspector Rob Papworth said when police visited the widower, whose wife recently died, he had sent a further $80,000 that same day.
“Working with his bank, they were able to recover this money and it is being returned to him,” he said.
But the man had already transferred more than $150,000 to the scammers — money he’s unlikely to ever recover.
“Unfortunately this is not an isolated matter — we are seeing increased scam activity, and romance and dating scams are particularly cruel,” Det-Insp Papworth said.
Data published by ScamWatch shows that more than $14.5 million has already been lost this year in dating and romance scams.
In SA, more than $433,000 has been lost from January to September this year, with 142 reports of dating scams.
Det-Insp Papworth said the figures likely showed only a fraction of the true scale of offending.
“We suspect this crime is often under-reported due to either shame and embarrassment, or reluctance for some victims to even acknowledge they have been taken advantage of,” he said.
“While we have been particularly concerned in recent years about money being sent to West African countries, we know that they are also using other countries as transfer points in order to avoid raising flags.
“We also know that they will seek to use local accounts — with a third party effectively committing the offence of money laundering — in order to cover their tracks or increase their perceived credibility or legitimacy with the victim.”