Looking for love online? Don’t let scammers leave you achy breaky this Valentine’s Day

Published Tuesday, 13 February, 2024 at 07:44 AM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

  • Queenslanders warned to be wary of romance and dating scams this Valentines Day
  • Almost $5m lost to romance and dating scams in 2023

Queenslanders looking for love online should be on high alert this Valentines Day, as new figures show almost $5 million was lost to dating and romance scams across the state last year.

The Miles Government is urging those looking for companionship and love online to be wary of scammers targeting victims using a range of digital platforms, including social networking, dating sites, apps and instant-messaging platforms.

According to Scamwatch, 836 Queenslanders reported $4.8 million in losses to dating and romance scams in 2023, the third highest in the country behind Victoria and New South Wales.

Slightly more Queenslanders were impacted in 2023, compared to the 822 who reported $4.5m in losses in 2022.

The largest cohort of Queenslanders who reported losses to these scams were aged 55-64 ($1.8M), followed by 65 and over ($1.7M) and 45-54 ($467,000).

Queensland men are mostly the victims of these types of scams (66.39 per cent).

According to Scamwatch data, the common form of contact by losses includes social media ($2M), followed by mobile apps ($893k) in person ($529k), text message ($492k), email ($454k) and internet ($433k).

Romance scammers play on emotional triggers to take advantage of their victims, which can often involve them professing love and affection very quickly, also known as ‘love bombing’.

Once a scammer has established trust, they will share elaborate stories and ask for money they say is to cover costs with illness, injury, business expenses, duty or customs fees, legal costs, family crises, or travel.

Romance baiting is another tactic scammers use to try and convince their victims to participate in a false investment or cryptocurrency and bond scams.

There are several steps people can take to protect themselves from romance scammers:

  • Check the photos of your romantic interest by doing a reverse-image search on Google. This can help determine if their profile image is legitimate.
  • Arrange to meet in person or ask to speak via video. If they can’t, it’s a warning sign.
  • Never share your banking or personal details with someone you’ve never met in person.

If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible. You should also contact the platform on which you were scammed and inform them of the circumstances.

Scams are a crime and not the victim’s fault. Romance scams can cause significant emotional suffering, on top of financial loss. If you are experiencing emotional distress, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For more information about romance scams, visit scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/dating-romance.

Quotes attributable to the Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette D’Ath:

“When it comes to love, listen to your head as well as your heart.

“The figures do show that we are seeing more Queenslanders targeted by dating and romance scams each year.

“Alarmingly, Queenslanders lost almost $5million last year, and more than $30million across the country.

“This Valentine’s Day we are reminding those looking for love to be wary of scammers.

“Never share your bank account or credit card details with, or transfer money to, someone you haven’t met in person.

If you think your friend or family member is a victim of a romance scam, talk to them about the warning signs and what they can do to protect themselves.

More information

ScamWatch data can be found at: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/research-and-resources/scam-statistics/scam-statistics-public-beta