Heartless Criminals Target Love Seekers This Valentines Day

As romance scams hit an all-time high, Baulkham Hills State Liberal MP David Elliott has reminded online love seekers in Baulkham Hills to think with their heads and not their hearts.

Mr Elliott 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 Elliott said.

The NSW Government’s new digital campaign highlights the dangers of online romance scams, including warning signs to be aware of, and simple steps consumers can take to stay safe this Valentine’s Day.

“This campaign is about calling out the signs and signals that something could be off, before the scammer gets their hands on your dollars,” Mr Elliott said.

“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.”

Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson said data 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.”

When it comes to protecting yourself online:

  • Be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos, especially if you’ve never met the person before. Scammers 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 are going;
  • Be wary of requests for money. Never send money or give credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust; and,
  • Resources such as Google reverse image search or TinEye are simple to use and available for free to check if your online match is using someone else’s image.

For more information on online scams, visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/buying-products-and-services/scams.