SCAMwatch, the service operated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), is warning users about fake profiles set up by scammers on legitimate dating and social network websites.
These scams can be seen every day of the year, but on Valentine’s Day they’re bound to be more prevalent.
Crooks use the fake profiles to connect with their potential victims. They build trust over several weeks and even months, during which they take the “relationship” to the next level and request more private means of communication.
Once they gain the victim’s trust, they make up a story about how they need money, gifts or bank account details.
If you give in and send them money, they will make additional requests for financial help. If you don’t send them the money, they usually become more desperate or persistent.
SCAMwatch warns that online dating and romance scams cost Australians millions of dollars each year. In some case, individual victims reported losing thousands of dollars.
GFI experts have issued an advisory of their own. Check out their blog post to see other scam variations and how to protect yourself against them.