What is a Dating Scam?

Australians lost $41m to romance scammers last year. This was a 27% drop over previous years and this will be partly because recent data breaches have made people more conscious of keeping their personal information secure.

Romance scammers target people looking for romantic partners, who are sometimes more vulnerable and less aware of the risks of online interactions.

Scammers exploit your emotional triggers in order to get you to part with your money or personal information and they can weave complex and often very believable stories.

The number one aim of most romance scammers is to get you to give them money so any requests for PayID, wire transfers, bank transfers or prefilled cards should be treated suspiciously.

Under no circumstances should you send money to a member unless it is contributing to sharing a pre-agreed cost such as a hotel room or buying a ticket for a genuine event through a reputable ticketing site.

How do I spot a scammer?

  • The most common scenario is that the scammer will gain your trust and then ask you to help with a time critical emergency ie. medical expenses, stolen credit card or urgent travel expenses. Initially, they may ask for a small amount but once you've agreed the requests will continue to escalate, and the scammer will try to emotionally manipulate you if you fail to do what they ask.
  • They may not directly ask for your personal data but may send you a link to a phishing site which can hack your data or trick you into revealing information such as your password, financial information or even the answers to your commonly used security questions.
  • If someone starts professing their undying love for you after only a few messages then this may be a romance scammer. If it feels too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be aware of scammers offering advice on buying crypto currency, sharing insider tips on trading or blockchain technology or offering to put you in contact with a “friend” who can help you with investments, want to talk about a business venture or ask if you can lend them money.
  • Look for language which doesn’t sound right for your location eg. in Australia using mom, cell phone instead of mobile or gas station.
  • Scammers often register in locations which sound more like overseas, eg. New Mexico, Maryland, Salt Lake, Texas, Wyoming (which are all in Australia but not common). And they will often be unable to answer questions relevant to their location such as distance from a major town or the current weather.
  • With the more common use of VPN access, many scammers from overseas are able to access an Australian IP so although our site will show the last login location for Premium members this is not a guarantee.
  • Look for photos uploaded or sent to you which don’t match the profile description, but keeping in mind that hair dye and contact lenses can change someone’s appearance.
  • Scammers will often try to obscure their email address in messages to avoid being picked up by filters, eg. k!k, whats up, k1k, at g male, at g m a i l, gee mail Or they might obscure a phone number, eg. +0ne-Six-Six-Two-Two-Two or one six six two two two
  • Scammers may claim:
    • they can’t reply as they are a standard member (standard member can reply to all messages)
    • that they’re not on the site often or that they’re going to close their account (which they only opened today)
    • that they can’t share their photos in Messenger, or that their photos are on a different device
    • that the foreign number they provided for WhatsApp is because they haven’t swapped their number yet
    • that they are currently travelling or working overseas
    • that they were unable to answer your video call in Messenger
    • ask you to “share your digits” instead of asking for your phone number.
    • or just blatantly ask for your email/phone number in their first reply.
  • Scammers will often cut & paste the same reply to every member. Their messages will often feel stilted and, other than using your first name or profile name, won’t answer any questions you asked or refer to anything you talked about in your initial message.
  • Scammers will often ask you to move offsite on their first reply.
  • Scammers will be unavailable to video call or even voice call and will always have to call you back.

If you have an interaction with a member and feel they are not genuine, please use the Report Member feature to bring suspicious behaviour to our attention.

Someone I was chatting to has been banned - were they a scammer?

If you’ve been chatting to a member and their profile shows as banned – what do you do? Well firstly we won’t provide you the exact reason we banned the member for privacy reasons. Either they were unable to verify, were reported for unusual behaviour such as collecting personal data or they broke one of the site Terms of Use (illegal activity, using a stolen CC, solicitation).

We suggest that you consider the interaction you had with that member and whether, if you have their external contact info, you should continue chatting with them. They were banned for a reason and are no longer welcome on the site so this is a warning that something was amiss.

Being scammed is a horrible experience but it can happen to anyone. Scammers weave complex webs of lies which can seem very genuine. If you have any doubt about your interaction with a member please use our Report Member feature to bring the account to our attention so that our Support team can review.

I’ve been scammed. What do I do now?

If you believe you’ve been scammed you need to act straight away to limit the damage.

  • Contact your bank or credit card provider to stop any transactions.
  • For Australian residents:
  • Report the matter to our Support team so that we can assist the authorities with their enquiries.
  • If you find yourself in financial difficulty or need someone to talk to please reach out to family & friends, a financial advisor or Lifeline on 13 11 14 
  • You can also contact IDCARE who supports individuals who have been impacted by data breaches and can help you make a plan to limit the damage.
  • If you have been scammed be wary of new scams including someone who offers to help you get your money back.