Romance scam warning

Investment scammers target dating app users.

It’s not just a dodgy date that dating app users need to be wary of.

Scammers have begun using dating apps to lure victims into investment scams, resulting in more than $37 million lost in 2020 according to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch.

This new technique, called romance baiting, involves scammers meeting people on dating apps and then moving the conversation to an encrypted chat site. After a few weeks of developing a relationship, the scammer will begin asking about the victim’s finances and encourage them to participate in an investment opportunity.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said romance baiting scams often targeted younger app users.

“While traditional dating and romance scams tend to target older Australians, almost half of all losses to romance baiting scams come from people under the age of 35,” Ms Rickard said.

“These scams prey on people seeking connection and can leave victims with significant financial losses and emotional distress.”

Scammers often encourage victims to initially transfer a small amount of money to prove how easy the investment is. 

Victims will be told to top up their accounts to increase their profits but when they run out of money to transfer, the scammer will cease all communication.

“Don’t take financial advice from someone you met on an app and never give financial or personal details to someone you’ve only met online,” Ms Rickard said.

“If you match with someone on a dating app, get to know them in the app as you have more protections than if you move to a different chat site.

“You can also do an internet search with the name or photo of your love interest or some of the phrases they have used to help identify if it is a scam.

“Remember that you are in control and if you start to feel pressured by someone, stop communicating with them.”

If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances.

Avoid dating scams

  • Never send money or give credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust. 
  • Do an image search of your admirer to help determine if they really are who they say they are.
  • Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin.
  • Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites.
  • If you agree to meet a prospective partner in person, tell family and friends where you are going.