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How to keep yourself safe from scams

Dating and romance scams

What are they?

Romance Scams, sometimes referred to as ‘catfishing’ happens when fraudsters take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often through dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective partners.

They use fictional names, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad. 

They play on your emotional triggers, using manipulative and psychologically controlling tactics.  And once they have gained your trust, they will ask you for money, gifts or your credit card details. Often pretending they need the money for some sort of personal emergency like health issues or family problems.

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Signs of a dating and romance scam

  • You meet someone online and they want to move the chat away from the dating app or website as soon as possible to talk with you privately on apps such as WhatsApp or Hangout.
  • After just a few chats they profess strong feelings for you.
  • Their dating profile is not consistent with what they are telling you.
  • They tell you an elaborate story and ask for money, gifts or your credit card details.
  • Their messages become more desperate, persistent or aggressive if you don't agree to their requests.
  • Their messages are poorly written and erratic. 

How to protect yourself

  • Never send money to someone you haven't met in person.
  • Do a reverse image search of the person you’re chatting with to help determine if they really are who they say they are. You can use Google or TinEye.
  • Look out for spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Never send payments to a stranger, especially via electronic funds transfer, international telegraphic transfer, pre-paid card or cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. It’s very rare that this money can ever be recovered.
Remember, we will never send you an email asking for your account details or your log in details for Phone Banking, Mobile Banking or Internet Banking.

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If you think you have been the victim of a romance scam, you should:

  • Contact us immediately on (08) 8202 7777
  • Report it to ASIC and the police via cyber.gov.au
  • Stop sending money to this person! Be wary of secondary scams.
  • Change your passwords and PINs straight away if you suspect your security has been compromised
  • Contact IDCARE on 1300 432 273 or via idcare.org. IDCARE is a free, Government-funded service that provides support to victims of identity crime
  • Visit the Scamwatch website for more information on scams.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last year Australian romance scam victims lost a total of $24.6 million. We investigate how people fall victim to these scams.