‘We are never ever getting back together:’ Romance scams on the rise

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Aussies looking for love are being warned to remain vigilant for scammers, with NAB insights ahead of Valentine’s Day revealing the bank has seen a 17% increase in the number of romance scams over the past year.

These scams involve criminals posing as sweethearts in search of love and approaching people on dating apps, social media platforms or text messages. The scammers work quickly to gain the person’s trust and then ask, persuade or pressure them to send money.

Australians lost more than $142 million to romance scams in 2021, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

NAB Executive Group Investigations and Fraud Chris Sheehan said while many long-lasting relationships started online, it was important to know how to spot a scammer from a potential partner.

“These criminals prey on people looking to find love around Valentine’s Day and it’s devastating to see the effects romance scams can have on people, which can be both financial and emotional,” Mr Sheehan said.

“It’s important to ask lots of questions of your would-be Romeo or Juliet. Scammers prefer to talk about you instead of themselves, so look for inconsistencies in their stories and speak to family and friends about the relationship.

“You can also do a reverse image search of photos you’re sent on a search engine like Google or TinEye to see if they’ve been used on other platforms or linked to other names online.

“Don’t send money or accept money into your account and then transfer it to someone else.

“We’ll make every attempt to prevent scams and recover funds where possible. However, if you do transfer money to a scammer, once the funds have left an account, it’s often difficult to recover as these criminals are sophisticated and move quickly.

“It’s also important to seek financial advice from a reputable professional, rather than acting on investment opportunities from people you don’t know.”

Mr Sheehan said prevention was critical to fight scams and encouraged Australians to remain vigilant to stay safe.

“We monitor customer accounts 24 hours a day, seven days a week for suspicious activity, as well as providing specialist training to our bankers and run customer education webinars with tips and advice,” he said.

“If anyone believes they have been victim to a scam or notices any fraudulent activity, take action and contact your bank immediately.”

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