Dating and romance scams
Dating and romance scams are common and can be traumatic for the victim.
Dating and romance scams aren't always obvious. Scammers' messages can be very convincing.
If you're not sure, talk through the suspicious message with a friend, family member or colleague.
Talking through your concerns out loud with someone else can reassure you and help to identify messages that may be fake before you click a malicious link or give away any personal information.
If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t feel embarrassed or helpless – there are steps you can take to limit the damage and protect yourself from further harm.
- Contact your bank or financial institution. If you’ve sent money or your personal banking details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. They may be able to help by stopping a money transfer or cheque, investigating a fraudulent credit card transaction, or closing your account if the scammer has your details.
- Recover your identity. If you think you have been the victim of identity theft, act quickly to avoid further damage. Contact IDCare, a free government-funded service who can help.
- Report the scam to the authorities. If you have been a victim of a crime (such as fraud) report it to your local police. We also encourage you to report the scam to the ACCC’s Scamwatch and ACSC's ReportCyber.
For additional information on the different kinds of help available, visit Scamwatch.
How these scams work
Criminals attempt to start an online relationship with a victim and then ask for money, gifts or valuable personal information. These scams may take place on online dating sites, but are also initiated through social media or email.
Scammers usually create fake profiles online or take the identities of real people, such as military personnel or professionals working overseas.
What to look out for
The person expresses strong emotions for you in a short period of time.
They try to move communications away from the dating site to a more private channel – such as phone, email or instant messaging.
After they’ve gained your trust, they tell an elaborate story and ask you for gifts like a mobile or laptop (to test the waters), money or bank account details. They will continue to persuade if you refuse or don't comply straight away, and their demands may become increasingly desperate.
Learn more about socialising online safely.
Protect yourself from dating and romance scams
There are a number of different precautions you can take to protect yourself from dating and romance scams online.
- Understand that scams exist and use caution online. Be particularly wary of any uninvited contact – whether it’s via email, social media or other means.
- Use strong passwords, take steps to protect your computer and use safe behaviour when using the web.
- Avoid malicious messages – don’t share your email address online unless you need to, use a spam filter to catch bogus messages before they get to your inbox and delete spam that does get through without opening it.
- Don’t open messages or click on links if you don’t know the sender or if you’re not expecting them.
- Don’t accept friend or contact requests on social media from people you don’t know. Criminals may use information they gather about you from social media in order to make their messages more appealing or appear more authentic.
Use the following resources to learn more about scams and how to protect yourself: