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Be alert for romance scams this Valentine’s Day

<strong>Be alert for romance scams this Valentine’s Day</strong>

14 February 2023

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has issued an alert to highlight the importance of staying vigilant against romance scams. 

With romance and dating scams the second most prevalent type of scam in Australia in terms of total losses, the ABA’s message supports the awareness-raising campaign launched by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch. 

“Vigilance is required at all times of the year as scammers grow increasingly persistent and sophisticated in their tactics”

ABA CEO, Anna Bligh

Scamwatch received almost 3700 reports of dating and romance scams last year, with more than $40 million lost – an eight per cent increase compared to the previous year.  

People aged over 65 are particularly vulnerable to this type of scam, losing $13 million with more than 600 incidents reported.  

While women are reporting the highest dollar value losses ($27m) to romance scams, men are making the higher number of reports (2012 reports), Scamwatch found.  

ABA Chief Executive Officer Anna Bligh said it is important to remain vigilant against scammers in all aspects of digital life, given many romance scammers operate online.  

“Vigilance is required at all times of the year as scammers grow increasingly persistent and sophisticated in their tactics,” Ms Bligh said.  

“However, around Valentine’s Day particular attention is needed for would-be romance scammers who are predominantly reaching out via mobile apps, social networking and increasingly via text message.  

“Always pause to question the authenticity of these messages.”  

Romance scammers tend to have fake online profiles, communicate frequently, will typically avoid video chats and will work hard to gain their victim’s trust, often with gifts and emotional anecdotes and stories, the ACCC reports.    

“Always pause to question the authenticity of these messages.”  

ABA CEO, Anna Bligh

How to spot a romance scammer:  

  • Search profiles online and see if anecdotes appear from romance scam survivors.  
  • Check photos provided by doing a reverse image search on Google to see if the photo has been attached to other profiles.  
  • Compare profiles on the dating website with social media pages to identify inconsistencies. 
  • Analyse photos of documents provided for evidence of forgery e.g., travel bookings, airline tickets or visas.    

Source: ACCC  

More information:  

  • Report scams via on the Scamwatch report form.   
  • Get advice on helping a friend or family member who is a victim to a scam here

Australian banks are working to protect you against scams

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