CBA is urging Aussies to be extra vigilant and ‘Stop. Check. Reject.’ around Valentine’s Day to ensure they don’t fall victim to romance scams.

Romance scams are one of the top three digital scam types that impact CBA customers in terms of dollars lost.1

CBA data indicates that scammers are increasingly exploiting the emotional vulnerability of Aussies seeking romantic relationships in the lead up to and shortly after Valentine’s Day.

While Scamwatch data shows that losses from scams overall in Australia have begun to fall2, they also reveal that Australia lost more than $40 million to romance scams in 2022.3 The data shows that men lost $13.5 million while women lost double the amount at $27 million.4

Latest CBA research shows that 92 per cent of Aussies are taking or planning to take steps to protect themselves from scams in 2024.5

James Roberts, General Manager of Fraud and Scams Strategy and Governance at Commonwealth Bank, says romance scams often start as a friend request on Facebook, a WhatsApp message from an unknown number or a message on a dating app.

“Scammers are the most opportunistic type of criminals and will take advantage of people looking for romantic relationships around Valentine’s Day,” Mr Roberts said.

“Scammers usually create fake online and social media identities designed to lure you in. Once they’ve gained your trust, often investing several months of frequent online conversations, they use your newfound relationship to request that you send them money or gifts.”

CBA encourages Aussies to exercise heightened caution and vigilance in their online interactions, especially at this time of year. To help avoid falling victim to romance scams, CBA advises individuals to look out for some of the common red flags.

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 often makes someone more likely to fall victim to the scam.
  • After gaining your trust scammers often tell elaborate stories that create a sense of urgency as a way to ask for money, gifts or personal information such as your credit card 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 continue to ask for more until all your savings are exhausted.
  • Scammers also often have an excuse for breaking promises about travelling to meet and needing more money.

Tips for protecting yourself

  • Stop: Never share passwords, credit card or bank account details with anyone.  Be especially cautious of sending money to a new acquaintance or someone you haven’t met in person.
  • Check: Research your potential partner or 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 struggle to accept.
  • Reject: Block the number and email address. Scammers will often re-attempt the scam or pose as a recovery agent who, for a fee, can get your money back.

Example of a romance scam

This recording is provided for educational purposes. It is an example of how our staff can support customers who may be at risk of being scammed. It is based on an original customer conversation, but has been re-recorded using actos and some details have been amended for privacy reasons. 

To help support Aussies against the growing threat of scams, CBA is stepping up its prevention and detection program to ensure that both people and businesses are better equipped to Stop. Check. Reject.

Over the past 18 months, CBA has announced a suite of anti-scam technology aimed at helping protect customers from scams, including:

For more information on protecting yourself from scams and fraud, visit:

1CBA data

2ACCC National Anti-Scam Centre in action, quarterly update July to September 2023

3Australian Competition & Consumer Commission Targeting Scams report published 2023.

4Australian Competition & Consumer Commission Targeting Scams report published 2023.

5YouGov research conducted online between 11 – 13 December 2023. The sample consisted of a nationally representative sample of 1,025 Australians aged 18 years or older.

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