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Con artists now find victims on any social media platform — Instagram, Facebook, games like Words With Friends. The romancers ask to switch to text, phone or messaging apps that offer more intimacy and less security monitoring. The exchange of personal contact information also makes both parties appear trusting.
So do the photographs. Vaca said. Weeks or months may pass before the scammers — generally not individuals, but criminal rings working in shifts hence their ability to be wooing online all day — make the key move. Reports collected by the F. In , the agency received 8, such complaints.
Last year, the number topped 25, — though Ms. Older adults have been particularly hard hit. Anyone — regardless of age, gender or education level — can fall for a romance swindle; in fact, younger adults are more apt to report losing money to these frauds. People in their 50s reported losing twice as much. Nofziger said. Last year, federal prosecutors brought a number of alarming romance cases. Army general in Afghanistan. Posing as a military member is another red flag, along with overseas locations.
In Oklahoma, 10 Nigerian and United States citizens were indicted in a fraud ring targeting multiple victims in three states. Floren may qualify as one of the luckier victims. Gift cards, untraceable and available everywhere, have become the currency of choice for scammers, Ms.
But they may also ask victims to open a bank account and provide access to it, or to ship iPhones. Floren bought a gift card, reading her apparent suitor the number. Three days later, he called again, claiming to have left a bag of expensive tools in a cab. Would she send him the money?
She took a break, had a cup of coffee, wondered why an international traveler had no credit card or employer willing to help. Often, though, victims feel too humiliated to talk about what happened. With hindsight, she blames her vulnerability on the fact that her mother was dying. Nofziger said of its victims. They may also ask you to send pictures or videos of yourself, possibly of an intimate nature. Often the scammer will pretend to need the money for some sort of personal emergency.
For example, they may claim to have a severely ill family member who requires immediate medical attention such as an expensive operation, or they may claim financial hardship due to an unfortunate run of bad luck such as a failed business or mugging in the street. The scammer may also claim they want to travel to visit you, but cannot afford it unless you are able to lend them money to cover flights or other travel expenses. Sometimes the scammer will send you valuable items such as laptop computers and mobile phones, and ask you to resend them somewhere.
They will invent some reason why they need you to send the goods but this is just a way for them to cover up their criminal activity. Alternatively they may ask you to buy the goods yourself and send them somewhere. You might even be asked to accept money into your bank account and then transfer it to someone else. Warning - the above scenarios are very likely to be forms of money laundering which is a criminal offence.
Never agree to transfer money for someone else. Sometimes the scammer will tell you about a large amount of money or gold they need to transfer out of their country, and offer you a share of it. They will tell you they need your money to cover administrative fees or taxes. Dating and romance scammers can also pose a risk to your personal safety as they are often part of international criminal networks. Scammers may attempt to lure their victims overseas, putting you in dangerous situations that can have tragic consequences.
Regardless of how you are scammed, you could end up losing a lot of money. Online dating and romance scams cheat Australians out of millions every year. The money you send to scammers is almost always impossible to recover and, in addition, you may feel long-lasting emotional betrayal at the hands of someone you thought loved you. If you think you have been scammed, report it to the website, app, or social media site where the scammer first approached you.
If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. We encourage you to report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page. This helps us to warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible.
Please include details of the scam contact you received, for example, email or screenshot. We also provide guidance on protecting yourself from scams and where to get help.
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