Shane Rattenbury, MLA
This Valentine’s Day Canberrans are being encouraged to be cautious with personal information – and funds - when it comes to looking for love online.
Minister for Consumer Affairs Shane Rattenbury said romance scams tended to spike around February each year and online and social media were rapidly becoming the platforms of choice for would-be scammers.
“In 2016 Canberrans lost $886,292 through dating and romance scams and 11 Canberrans reported losing more than $10,000 through this type of scam. Those aged over 45 years are often the key target.
“Last year sadly, Australians lost $20.2 million in dating and romance scams.
“Most scammers target people on social media, by email or on dating websites. Unfortunately victims of such scams can feel embarrassed or ashamed and it often means many such instances of scamming are not reported,” Mr Rattenbury said.
Mr Rattenbury said the behaviour of scammers was becoming more sophisticated and unfortunately they preyed on the vulnerabilities of those they are contacting.
“Scammers often create realistic profiles online and will share information that seems legitimate.
“However key red flags to look for include requests for funding (often small that build over time), a reluctance to meet or talk on the phone and a potential partner based overseas who seeks funding to travel to ‘meet’.
“Unfortunately the old adage of ‘if it sounds too good to be true it is probably is’ rings true in many of those instances and it is important to be informed and aware to help protect your heart and wallet.”
Some tips to help you weed out those that might not be in it for the right reasons:
- Be open to the idea that scammers are prevalent online.
- Be wary of anyone who asks you for money. This can happen within days, weeks or months of meeting someone online. Never transfer money via direct deposit, money order or international transfer.
- Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. You can do this via Google images by clicking on the camera icon on the desktop version of the site’s search bar. This can help you identify if the image has been taken from someone else, or belongs to a few people with different names.
- Be careful about the amount of personal information you share and avoid sharing compromising material, which scammers can use to blackmail you.
For more information or to report a potential scammer visit the Fair Trading Portal at: act.gov.au/fairtrading