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CUPID-19: Romance scammers taking advantage of the continuing pandemic

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With the pandemic continuing to affect the daily lives of Australians, romance scammers are targeting the emotionally vulnerable and taking advantage of people wanting to escape the reality of lockdown. 

Coined “romance scammers”, criminals create fake profiles on popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram or dating sites. They then start a conversation with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking to them multiple times a day and for several months. Once they have built up this trust, they will trick their victims through a false story and ask for money.

ASIC has seen a rise in the number of investment scam reports from Australian consumers and investors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Already this year, there have been nearly 81,000 reported cases of all forms of scams with losses totalling over $77 million.

Now, more than ever, scammers are taking advantage of the circumstances of COVID-19. Isolation and loneliness have led to more people seeking conversations and human connection via the internet and digital devices, making them more susceptible to be targeted from romance scammers. In particular, romance scams have increased, where Scamwatch has reported 2,027 scams with losses of almost $20 million during 2020 alone. 

Tips to protect yourself:

If you want to find more information on scams and how to stay safe online, we have a dedicated security web page to educate our Members on scams and scam awareness. Click here to find out more. 

The protection of our Members and their personal information is always our first priority. If you think you may have given money, account details or any personal information to a romance scammer, please contact us immediately on 1300 65 4477.

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