Heartless criminals target love seekers this Valentine's Day

Published: 12 Feb 2021

As romance scams hit an all-time high, Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson has kicked off a new campaign reminding online love seekers to think with their heads and not their hearts. 

Mr Anderson said in 2020 Australians were conned out of $37 million through romance scams, a $9 million increase on the year before. 
“We Aussies are romantics at heart but as there’s usually a spike in scams around Valentine’s Day, you’ve got to use your head when it comes to online romances,” Mr Anderson said. 
A new digital campaign run by Fair Trading seeks to highlight the dangers of online romance scams, including warning signs to be aware of, and simple steps consumers can take to protect themselves.  
“We are building a safer and stronger NSW, and that means protecting our most vulnerable,” Mr Anderson said. “This campaign is about calling out the signs and signals that something could be off, before the scammer gets their hands on your dollars. 
“Alarm bells should be ringing if the relationship seems to be moving too fast, for example, if someone’s telling you they love you after one conversation, or if their story seems a bit farfetched or unrealistic. 
“Ultimately, if something feels a bit off, it probably is.” 
Data gathered by the ACCC shows dating websites and social media are the most common hunting grounds for scammers, with those aged 45–64 most affected. 
“Never share your personal details or send money to someone you’ve only met online. It’s a recipe for disaster,” Mr Anderson said. 
“The last thing anyone needs is a broken heart and an empty wallet this Valentine’s Day.” 

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