South Australians have reportedly lost more than $2 million to romance scams, with SA Police waring people to stay vigilant as Scams Awareness Week comes to a close.
Scamwatch reported Australians lost more than $40 million dollars to catfishing and romance scams last year, an 8 per cent increase from the year before.
Dating and romance scams often take place online through dating apps and websites, and through social media, according to police.
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“Scammers will work on a victim for weeks, sometimes months,” Cybercrime unit Senior Constable Lauren Degabriele said.
Scammers will do this to ensure they have “manipulated their victim into believing there is an emotional connection” before revealing their true intention — to get money.
“These scams are also known as catfishing,” Degabriele said
What is catfishing?
Have you ever received a message or friend request from an account that didn’t seem quite right? There’s a chance this may have been a catfish.
“Scammers typically create fake online profiles designed to lure people in,” Degabriele said.
“They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad.”
Scamwatch reported people aged 65 and older had the highest total losses to romance scams last year, totalling more than $12.9 million.
Police and scammer watchdogs have highlighted the red flags to watch out for, which include:
Never FaceTime or say their webcam “isn’t working”.Promises to meet in-person but there is always an excuse last minute.Requests to keep the relationship/friendship secret.Asking for money, gift cards or to make investment schemes.
Catfishing is not always about love
Earlier this year, a Melbourne couple were involved in a rental property scam, leaving them thousands of dollars out of pocket, after they signed a lease for an apartment which was actually being used as an Airbnb.
In October, a Queensland woman lost her life savings in an elaborate online employment scam targeting vulnerable people looking for online work.
If you think you may have been a victim of catfishing, contact your bank to stop any payments and contact the police.
You can report a scam at www.cyber.gov.au/report
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
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