Scammers are opportunistic criminals and can take advantage of people looking for romantic partners around Valentine’s Day.
A friend request on Facebook or a message on a dating app from someone you don’t know could be the start of a romance scam.
Romance scammers set out to steal your heart to scam you.
“They usually create fake online identities designed to lure you in. Once they’ve gained your trust, often investing several months of close contact, they use your newfound relationship to request that you send them money or gifts,” says James Roberts, General Manager Group Fraud at Commonwealth Bank.
“They may plead with you, asking for cash to help with a non-existent health, travel or family problem, or ask you to transfer assets into their name – using manipulative, psychologically controlling and deceitful tactics to get what they want.”
His advice if you suspect you may be interacting with a scammer?
“Cut off contact immediately.”
Romance scam red flags
- Romance scammers express strong emotions for you in a short amount of time – it’s a technique called ‘love bombing’ and it often makes someone more likely to fall victim of the scam.
- After gaining your trust scammers often tell elaborate stories with a sense of urgency as a way to ask for money, gifts or personal information.
- If the scammer’s requests are not fulfilled, messages and calls may become desperate, persistent and direct.
- If their request is met, they often ask for more.
- Scammers also often have an excuse for breaking promises about travelling to meet and needing more money.
Tips for protecting yourself
- Stop: Never send money, or share passwords, credit card or account details with anyone you don’t trust or haven’t met before.
- Check: Research your potential partner. Just because someone is willing to meet their target face-to-face over FaceTime doesn’t mean they are genuine.
- Reject: Speak to your family and friends about your online relationship. They may be able to offer perspective and identify red flags that you may not have noticed or are struggling to accept.
To help support Aussies against the growing threat of scams, CommBank is stepping up its anti-scam technology to ensure people and businesses are better equipped to Stop. Check. Reject.
Find out more on how CommBank is educating and protecting customers, visit: commbank.com.au/safe