Don’t let your heart overrule your head this Valentine’s Day

This announcement is for: 
Consumer
  • People looking for love online are prime targets for scammers
  • WA victims lost almost $3 million in 2021
  • Check to ensure the online love interest is genuine

Consumer Protection warns Western Australians looking for love could be left with a broken heart and an empty bank balance if they fail to spot the signs their online romance is the work of scammers.

Would-be scammers are using a broader range of digital platforms to target victims, including social networks, dating sites and instant-messaging apps.

In 2021, 85 people reported to WA ScamNet losing almost $3 million to dating and romance scams. This compares to 72 victims losing $2.2 million dollars the previous year. Nationally, Australians lost $56 million in 2021 which was up 44 per cent from 2020.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said there were a number of steps people could take to protect themselves against scammers.

“Our scam prevention tips include doing some online checks such as a reverse image search to find out if the profile photo of their romantic interest is legitimate,” Mr Newcombe said.

"Consumers seeking a romantic partner are encouraged to communicate within the dating app and be wary of people who seek to immediately move the online conversation to a one-on-one conversation through texts, email or Whatsapp.

“Look for red flags when the online love interest makes up excuses for not being able to carry out simple requests or starts asking for money for investments, medical treatment, travel costs to visit or other reasons that are designed to pull at the heart strings.

"Always report suspicious people as dating apps can remove the profile of those reported to be a potential scammer. This will benefit others on the dating app who are also in contact with that person.

"It is important never to transfer money to, or share bank account details with, someone you have yet to meet in person. When it comes to love it is important to listen to your head as well as your heart.”

People who have fallen victim to identity theft should contact IDCARE at www.idcare.org or call 1800 595 160, while people targeted by scams can lodge an online report via the WA ScamNet website. Enquiries can be made by calling 1300 30 40 54.

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Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / alan.hynd@dmirs.wa.gov.au  

Consumer Protection
Media release
10 Feb 2022

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