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Sydney, Feb 10: Australians should be on alert as romance scams are expected to surge around Valentine’s Day.
As a record $324 million was lost to romance scams in Australia in 2021, up nearly double from $176 million in 2020. 2020.
Scammers inundate dating apps and social media around Valentine’s Day to prey on lonely singles because those desperate for love and connection are more susceptible to being victimised.
Social Catfish – a company that verifies online identities with reverse image searches — released a study on the State of Online Scams in Australia after analysing data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) from 2019 to last April.
This Valentine’s Day, it is critical to know how to spot and avoid romance scams around Valentine’s Day.
Here are the top three signs you are being ‘catfished’ and how to avoid it:
They Seem too Good to be True: Scammers steal photos of very attractive and successful looking people and create fake online accounts to lure you in. If suddenly, a handsome billionaire or a gorgeous model falls into your lap, it should be approached with healthy skepticism. Fairy tales do happen, but why not do some simple vetting?
How to Avoid: Perform a reverse image search to see if their picture matches their name. If the photo is used on many dating apps using different names, it is a scam.
They Fall in Love Having Never Met You: Regardless of how strong your online chat game is, it is unlikely someone will genuinely fall in love without spending time with you. To find out for sure you must take the relationship to the next level by video chatting and meeting in person. Scammers come up with reasons why they cannot do either.
How to Avoid: Stop communicating with anyone who will not meet or video chat in a reasonable amount of time.
They Ask for Money, Crypto or Gift Cards: The biggest red flag of all is when a person whom you have never met starts asking for money. Frequent reasons include problems with the bank account, medical emergencies or they need the money so they can come visit you. Scammers like to be paid with gift cards or bitcoin as this is harder for authorities to trace.
How to Avoid: This one is simple and foolproof. Never give money to anyone you meet online.
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