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How likely are you to fall for a romance scam?

2 November 2017

Some online romances result in true love, while others just lead to awkward dates. But online relationships can also lead to financial ruin and heartbreak.

Looking for love online can seem easier than going on a traditional date. There’s also a large pool of possible matches, and some people prefer the sense of safety and distance with selecting matches online rather than feeling pressured or vulnerable.

So why do some people fall victim to romance and dating scams while others don’t? A recent study, ‘Do you Love me?  Psychological Characteristics of Romance Scam Victims’, found that those with an addictive personality, are impulsive, and place high trust in others are more likely to fall victim to a romance scam.

The study also found that middle-aged, well-educated women are most vulnerable, and that knowledge of cyber security didn’t make a difference.

Whether or not you identify with the above characteristics, you may still be vulnerable and should always stay alert to possible scammers. 

Staying safe

Before you give your heart to someone online, consider the following advice to stay safe from romance scams.

  • Always consider the possibility that your online friend may not be genuine, and try to remove the emotion from your decision making, no matter how caring or persistent they are.
  • Be wary of requests for money. Never send money or give credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you don’t actually know or trust.
  • Do an image search of your admirer to help determine if they really are who they say they are.
  • Be alert to things like unusual spelling and grammar mistakes, inconsistencies in their stories, and excuses such as their camera never working when you try to Skype each other.
  • Be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos with prospective partners, especially if you’ve never met them. Scammers are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material.
  • If you agree to meet a prospective partner in person, tell family and friends where you are going. We strongly recommend you do not travel overseas to meet someone for the first time.
  • Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.

More information

Read a real life story of how a woman lost over $100,000 to a romance scam.

Read more on romance and dating scams on the ScamWatch website.

Read more about socialising safely online.