26 September 2023

Dating scams causing financial heartbreak

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Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Gary Newcombe says his Office has received numerous stories of online dating scam victims left heartbroken and with a financial loss.

“Sadly, dating and romance scams are on the rise,” Mr Newcombe said.

“In Western Australia last year, 85 victims reported losing $3 million to this type of scam, up from 72 victims losing $2.2 million in 2020,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we know these figures are just the tip of the iceberg, because many romance scams go unreported to authorities.”

Mr Newcombe said Consumer Protection was reminding people of the warning signs and that victims were not just those who were actively seeking a partner — “it could be you, your friend or family member”.

“Scammers will express strong feelings for their victims in a relatively short period of time and can spend many months building up trust before they ask for money,” he said.

“Scam victims sometimes send money because they feel the need for money is genuine, or they might send money towards an airfare believing that their love interest will visit them.”

The Commissioner said before making contact with a potential love-interest, it was important to check whether their online profile was legitimate by doing a reverse Google image search or a TinEye reverse image search.

He said another important tip was to arrange to meet safely in-person, or ask to speak via video.

“Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for upfront payment through money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or gift card, or electronic currency, like Bitcoin, as it is rare to recover money sent this way,” Mr Newcombe said.

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