A ‘romance scam’ is where fraudsters trick victims into believing they’re in a romantic relationship, quickly gaining your trust and then claiming they need money for some sort of personal emergency…
You’ll think you’ve met your perfect partner online, but they aren’t who they say they are.
You might register with an online dating agency or chat room, and make contact with someone. It’s common for fraudsters to create fake online profiles and they’ll lure their victims in. They’ll use fictitious names and false identities, maybe as military personnel or aid workers.
Gradually you’ll develop a long-distance relationship with them through emails, texting, phone calls or instant messaging. After they’ve gained your trust, they tell you about a problem they have, asking for your money, gifts or banking/credit card details.
They might say they want to travel to visit you, but can’t afford it unless you can lend them money to cover flights or other travel expenses.
When you’ve sent them some money, they’ll keep coming back for more.
- Never send money to anyone you’ve not met in person. Never give your credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.
- Try to remove the emotion from your decision making no matter how caring or persistent the ‘prospective partner’ is.
- Use Google to do an image search of your admirer on the internet, to see if they are who they say they are.
- Be alert to spelling and grammar mistakes, inconsistencies in their stories and other signs such as their camera never working if you want to Skype each other.
- Be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos with prospective partners, especially if you’ve never met them before. Fraudsters are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material.
- If you agree to meet a prospective partner in person, tell family and friends where you’re going. It’s strongly recommended you don’t travel overseas to meet someone you’ve never met before.
- Avoid any arrangement that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. It’s hard to recover money transferred using these payment methods.
- Be careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites. Fraudsters can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.
For more information on scams and how you can protect yourself from fraud, visit our fraud pages.