With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, lonely hearts are getting a timely reminder to beware online dating scams and romance rorts.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said Valentine’s Day romantics could spare themselves financial loss and embarrassment by taking a few basic precautions to thwart scammers.
“People are often at their most vulnerable when they’re looking for love and this makes them more susceptible to scammers,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“It never ceases to amaze how scheming these scammers can be, and how willing they are to prey on vulnerable people’s feelings for personal profit.
“Scammers will go to great lengths over many months to gain your trust – they’ll say all the right things, buy you gifts and appear to share personal information.
“But once your defences are down, they’ll strike. Scammers could ask, either directly or subtly, for money, gifts, or even your banking or credit card details.
“One of the most manipulative tricks in a scammer’s repertoire is pretending to need money for a personal emergency.
“The Office of Fair Trading’s tips to protect yourself from romance scams include:
- always be cautious of people you meet online
- never send money to someone you haven’t met in person
- be wary if someone tries to move communications away from the dating website or app to another platform like email, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp
- be alert to inconsistencies in their stories
- be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos with prospective partners as scammers are known to blackmail their victims using compromising material.”
Mrs D’Ath said in 2019, Australians reported losing more than $28 million to romance scams, of which $6.8 million was lost by Queenslanders.
“But that figure is likely to be the tip of the iceberg because many people who are scammed don’t report it out of embarrassment,” she said.
“By all means enjoy Valentine’s Day but also be aware that if you’re looking for love, there are people out there who may try to take advantage of this.”
For more information about romance scams and how consumers can protect themselves, visit https://www.qld.gov.au/law/fair-trading and https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams.