The Albanese Government urges Australians to be vigilant to romance scams as Valentine’s Day approaches. Romance scams are one of the costliest scams with Australians losing almost $35 million in 2023.
These heartless scammers exploit innocent people trying to find love and connection. As more Australians look to connect on the internet, these ruthless scammers are operating across social media and dating apps.
Scammers are also using love and romance to lure people into investment scams. Romance baiting scam costs Australians an additional $40.6 million in 2023.
While anyone can be a victim of a scam, romance scams disproportionately impact people over 55 years and those living with disabilities.
The Government is urging Australians to watch out for these signs of a romance scam:
- You can’t meet in person. The scammer will say they live somewhere overseas or interstate. Reasons vary, but usually the scammer will say they are either military, United Nations, doctors or even working on an oil rig.
- You are told a story that makes you feel sorry for them. Scammers often present a story of being divorced or widowed with a child or children.
- You are asked for money to help with a crisis. Once trust and a relationship is established, scammers will commonly ask for money to help with illness, injury, travel costs or a family crisis.
The Albanese Government is committed to fighting scammers and protecting Australians from this scourge. Since establishing the National Anti‑Scam Centre, scam losses have consistently reduced, with new Scamwatch data showing losses in the final quarter of 2023 are down 42 per cent compared to the same period in the previous year.
New Scamwatch data also shows losses are trending down across scam types, including:
- a 74.3 per cent decrease in losses by cryptocurrency to $12.4 million
- a 31 per cent decrease in losses by bank transfer to $40.2 million
- a 22.4 per cent decrease in losses where social networking is a contact method to $15.9 million.
While these are promising signs that the Albanese Government’s fight against scams is working, this is just the start. Scammers still pose a real threat to everyday Australians, which is why we recently consulted on tough new industry codes on banks, telcos, and digital platforms to better protect consumers.
Quotes attributable to Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones MP:
“These scams are particularly vicious and exploit the basic human emotion of wanting to connect and find love – it is heart‑wrenching stuff.
“What we’ve put into place is starting to work and we’ve seen Scamwatch reported losses consistently decline since we stood up the National Anti‑Scam Centre – but we urge people to remain vigilant and know how to protect themselves so we can fight this scourge together.
“We are aiming to make Australia the hardest place in the world for these criminals to ply their act and to make it the safest place in the world for consumers.”