Last Christmas I gave you my heart, this Christmas I gave you…$15K in a scam.
It is not quite as catchy as the original however the ‘festive season’ can be a lonely time for many and SA Police often see an increase in scam activity, particularly romance and dating scams targeting those who are looking for love or companionship.
The Cybercrime Branch is investigating a romance scam where a woman met a man through a mobile phone game. After about three months of communication, requests from the man for financial assistance began.
Over a twelve month period the victim purchased and handed over in excess of 230 gift cards totalling over $15,000 in value to the scammer.
Follow these helpful tips to protect yourself online from a dating and romance scammer:
- Scammers create believable profiles to present themselves as an almost too good to be true ‘catch’. Use a Google Image search to check if their profile picture is genuine.
- If the person you are interested in says they are overseas, or can’t meet you right now for any reason, be suspicious. Their excuse may sound reasonable but it is usually a lie.
- Be careful when people profess strong feelings early on. Scammers want you to fall in love with them so they can abuse your trust and feelings to get money out of you.
- Don’t ever give money to someone you have only met online. Scammers spin sympathetic tales about why they need money but don’t fall for it.
- Don’t share intimate photos or use webcams in an intimate setting. Scammers use these photos or webcam recordings to blackmail their victims.
If you agree to meet a romantic prospect in person, always tell your family and friends when and where you are going especially if you intend to travel overseas – check with the police and register with www.smartraveller.gov.au
For further information or to report online scams, visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch website – www.scamwatch.gov.au or the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network – ACORN website at www.acorn.gov.au or contact your local police.