Many of us are on the lookout for love around Valentine’s Day, but police are also warning people to be wary of scammers who may take advantage of both the heartstrings and the purse strings.
Echoing a warning from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), officers from SA Police are urging caution to vulnerable, lonely or isolated people who may “friend” strangers online.
SA Police’s Major Fraud Investigation Section currently run Operation Disrepair as part of a larger and ongoing commitment to tackling global fraud while preventing further victimisation.
In operation since 2013, the operation aims to identify people who may have sent money overseas after being targeted by scammers.
Follow these helpful tips from ACCC to protect yourself online from a dating and romance scammer:
- Scammers create believable profiles to present themselves as an almost too good to be true ‘catch’. Use a Google Image search to check if their profile picture is genuine.
- If the person you are interested in says they are overseas, or can’t meet you right now for any reason, be suspicious. Their excuse may sound reasonable but it is usually a lie.
- Be careful when people profess strong feelings early on. Scammers want you to fall in love with them so they can abuse your trust and feelings to get money out of you.
- Don’t ever give money to someone you have only met online. Scammers spin sympathetic tales about why they need money but don’t fall for it.
- Don’t share intimate photos or use webcams in an intimate setting. Scammers use these photos or webcam recordings to blackmail their victims.
- If you agree to meet a romantic prospect in person, always tell your family and friends when and where you are going especially if you intend to travel overseas - check with the police and register with www.smartraveller.gov.au
Earlier today, the ACCC today revealed that Australians reported losses of $20.5 million to Scamwatch from dating and romance scams in 2017, with more than 3700 reports.