With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s important to remain vigilant of romance scams and not let them take advantage of your generous, trusting nature and steal your money. While dating apps, social media networks and gaming apps are great to connect with like-minded people, they could also put you at risk of connecting with a scammer that will manipulate you for money.
According to Scamwatch1, from January 2023 to November 2023:
- Australians reported 280,240 scam events for a total of $455.5 Million in overall losses.
- 3,431 reported incidents were dating & romance scam related, with victims reporting losses of $33.5 million dollars.
Investment scams was the scam with the highest reported loss in 2023, with Australians reporting 7,727 events totaling $276 million dollars.
A romance scam involves a scammer connecting with you via a fake online profile and quickly profess feelings for you and encourage you to move the conversation away from the official platform to email or Whatsapp messenger services.
Once they feel that they have gained your trust, they will advise you of a sudden “emergency’ and ask for your assistance. They may request you to give them money or use your account to receive or transfer money on their behalf or ask you to set up an account in your name for them to access and use.
Warning signs of a romance scam
- The relationship will move fast and things will progress quickly – the pace of the relationship will move quicker than it normally would and they will make you feel special.
- They will encourage you to move to another platform – if you have connected with a scammer on a dating site, they may ask you to migrate contact to another messaging platform, such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger
- They may tell you to keep your relationship secret – the scammer will try and isolate you from your loved ones and will encourage you to only trust them.
- When asked to meet in person, they will always come up with an excuse – the scammer may mention that they live overseas or have a last-minute issue and they cannot make the meeting. During video call requests, they will mention that their camera is broken or they’re experiencing technical issues.
Below are some tips on how you could protect yourself from a romance scam:
- Never send money to someone you’ve never met in-person – no matter how you feel about a person, do not transfer or send funds to someone you don’t know, with the promise they will reimburse you.
- Take things slow and always ask questions to learn more about a person – always remain curious and if things don’t add up, ask additional questions and research online (i.e perform a reverse photo search).
- Be careful of what you share – avoid sending intimate photos or videos to people you don’t know, even if you are encouraged. Keep details about your hobbies and interests online to a minimum as scammers may leverage and use these to their advantage.
- Check the online profile before communicating – fake profile photos often look professional, contain very little personal information, no connection to other social media accounts and have very few comments or shares from other people on social media.
Case Study: The effects of a romance scam
For a real-life case study, please visit the National Anti-Scam Centre website: Scamwatch for details on how a scammer left a victim broke after connecting via Facebook.
What is Crypto – Rom?
Crypto – Rom is a combination of a romance scam that progresses into an investment scam.
On occasion, scammers will connect with a victim via an online platform such as a dating site or Facebook and gloat about their successful cryptocurrency investments. After sparking your attention, they will offer to educate you on how to invest, so you too can make higher than average profits.
The scammer will often request remote access to your device in order to guide you step-by-step through the process of opening a Crypto-exchange account and then onto the recommended investment platform. Victims often report having access to an online portal where they can watch their investment grow and are encouraged to continually invest more money, even if it means taking out a personal loan. Withdrawals are discouraged. It is often months or even years later when funds are attempted to be withdrawn, that the scam is realised.
Victims are often advised the investment is of little to no risk but offers high profit returns and is a limited opportunity. This places pressure on you to make a decision quickly to remove the opportunity to conduct thorough research on the investment for the fear of missing out.
Cryptocurrency is a highly volatile investment and Qudos Bank encourages all investors to do their own due diligence and research prior to investing. If you are receiving financial advice from a third party, it is recommended to ensure that the broker or investment manager holds an Australian licence to provide financial advice and represents a reputable registered company.
To assist consumers in making sound investment decisions, consumers are encouraged to visit the 'Check before you invest' website and check the investment details on the 'Investor Alert list' issued by ASIC which is available on the MoneySmart website.
Before transferring funds, consumers are reminded to:
Stop: Take a minute and ask yourself, could this be a scam?
Think: Does this seem too good to be true? Am I being placed under pressure to act quickly?
Review: Verify the information being supplied to you is genuine via an independent source. If something appears off, contact Qudos Bank and immediately cease communication with the third party.
Similar to a Crypto-Rom, below are the warning signs of an investment scam:
- Unexpected contact – this could be through phone, email, social media, or text message. The scammer will pretend that they’re an Investment Manager or Broker.
- Fake advertisements and celebrity endorsements – you may see increased ads from influencers/celebrities you recognise on social media platforms, recommending investment opportunities with guaranteed returns and quick profits.
- You receive pressure to act immediately – the scammer will try to convince you that it is a limited offer that will not last and you need to take immediate action before missing out.
- You are asked to pay a deposit or overseas taxes or duty prior to being able to make a withdrawal.
Before deciding to invest:
- Visit the 'Check before you invest' page on the ASIC Moneysmart website and ensure any third parties offering financial advise are licensed to do so
- Always be cautious of social media advertising and celebrity endorsements promoting products or investments.
- When searching for the token or crypto exchange name on Google or any other search engine, add the word ‘scam’, ‘review’ or ‘warning’ to find out if you’re getting scammed.
- Review websites thoroughly – it’s important to check and independently verify via multiple sources the company’s details, including the addresses and phone numbers. Pay attention to mistakes and be wary of promotions that promise large profits.
- Be wary of requests asking for payment in crypto – if you’re asked for payment in crypto from a romantic partner, recruiter or online acquaintance, it’ll most likely be a scam.
- Remain on high alert for investment opportunities that use terms such as 'high returns' or 'low risk'.
Keep scam safe
Education and due diligence is key to preventing you falling for sophisticated scams. Our Fraud & Security hub contains information and external resources about the different types of scams and can be found on our website. If in doubt, it is best to cease communication with the third party, conduct independent research and contact Qudos Bank for further information.
Before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.
The information in this article is of a general nature and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.
ACCC’s Scamwatch. 2023. “Scam statistics.” https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/research-and-resources/scam-statistics
Qudos Mutual Limited trading as Qudos Bank ABN 53 087 650 557 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 238 305.
Published 5 February 2024