Scamsters preying on Australians looking for romance and companionship are at it again.
Police said they have received more than 70 complaints from victims over the last six months, with some Queensland victims losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Officers said they have seen an increase in complaints involving cryptocurrency-related fraud that start on online dating platforms.
“Investment scams using inline dating cryptocurrency as hooks reflect how criminals, who are often part of organised crime groups based overseas, are adapting old scams to new technologies,” a spokesperson said.
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The Australian Security and Investment Commission has recorded a 20 per cent increase in reported cryptocurrency scams from March to May 2020 when compared to the same period last year.
Fraudsters allegedly create fake online profiles on dating sites or social media platforms to target potential victims.
“The scammer may mention an interest in cryptocurrency in their fake profile. They will take time to build a connection with a victim before mentioning an investment opportunity in cryptocurrency,” police said.
Police said while the scams may vary, they all rely on similar well-used techniques to steal money.
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This often includes emotional manipulation, investment opportunities and promises that profits can be maximised through the payment of more money.
“The scammer may even use fake websites and data to make the investment look real,” police continued.
They said the contact often stops or profiles disappear when victims become suspicious.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Be cautious with the information you share online.
- Familiarise yourself with privacy and security settings of the online site you are using.
- Always consider the possibility an online approach could be a scam.
- Do a reverse image search to check if a profile image has been used elsewhere.
- Never trust anything that seems to be good to be true.
- Be wary of relationships that develop very quickly.
- Do not make financial payments to someone online you have never met. When it comes to alleged investment opportunities, always do independent research and seek independent financial advice. Be aware that the recovery of money sent by cryptocurrency is rare.
If you or someone you know has been scammed:
- Stop all contact with the scammer and block them.
- If you have lost money notify your bank immediately.
- Report the matter to police via www.cyber.gov.au/report.
- Notify the relevant social media or dating platform.
- Secure your accounts, change passwords and review your privacy and security settings.
You can learn more about scams at www.scamwatch.gov.au and R U in Control?
By Shaun Ryan