#onlinedating | Dating and romance scam warning signs revealed and what to do if you’ve been conned | #bumble | #tinder | #pof


Last year, Aussies lost $634 million to all types of cons.

But with lockdowns in place and feelings of isolation at an all-time high, romance scams have become increasingly concerning.

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In 2019, Australians lost a staggering $83 million to dating and romance scams – which is a 30 per cent increase on the year before.

And while the stigma around this kind of scam often paints a picture of the victims being older women, that’s no longer the case.

These scammers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and reaching out to people on platforms often aimed at teenagers and young adults.

Stock photo of a dating app. Credit: Tero Vesalainen/Getty Images

“These scammers keep up-to-date with technology, so one of the things we’re finding is that romance scams can take place on any online site where people connect,” said digital literacy expert Dr Joanne Orlando.

“These scammers spend weeks or months gaining confidence in order to get money.

“It might be in the form of cash, but it might be in the form of something like gift cards.”

Signs to look for

As many people are still afraid to come forward about being scammed, it’s important to look out for warning signs in loved ones.

They can include being unusually secretive around devices, not being open with information, and excuses to not meet their new partner.

Stock photo of a young woman using her phone.
Stock photo of a young woman using her phone. Credit: Manuel Breva Colmeiro/Getty Images

“Unfortunately, a lot of victims are really embarrassed about being conned,” said Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett.

“By the time we actually become aware of it, if they’ve sent money, often it has been moved overseas and we have difficulty tracking it back.

“We work closely with financial institutions and with our overseas counterparts, and within Australia as well with law enforcement.

Don’t send anyone money

“The main thing is, if you meet someone online, whatever you do, do not send them money.

“They will give you a sob story, and they’re actually grooming their victim. They play to the weakness of the victim and that something that we really need to stop.

“Unfortunately, once they get money out of you, they will on-sell your details to other scammers.

“They’ll also open up bank accounts, loans, or apply for credit once they have your details, which can affect the victim’s credit rating.”

What a scam looks like

“Once a scammer contacts you, they run according to very well-oiled scripts,” Orlando said.

“They refine them and refine them so they know the way to catch people.

“One sign is there is always a physical distance – they might be living in London, but they’re Australian and they can’t get back because of COVID.

“There’s always a reason that they want to meet you, but they never can.

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