Last year, financial criminals stole more than $40 million in fake investments from people in Australia through dating websites and social media.
These scammers pretend to a real person who wants a relationship with you, spending weeks or months gaining your trust.
They tell you to invest your money or cryptocurrency in 'opportunities' that turn out to be fake, leaving you broke and broken-hearted.
How to spot the scam
- Someone you don't know contacts you through a dating app, website or social media.
- They show interest in developing a relationship with you, and follow this up with frequent messages expressing strong feelings for you.
- When you've built trust with them, they tell you about an investment scheme or platform where you can make money easily. This often involves cryptocurrency.
- They may offer to show you how easy it is to invest. You may even make a profit quickly from a small amount you've invested.
How the scam works
- The scammer contacts you through a dating app, website or social media.
- After a few messages, the scammer asks you to start messaging on Google Hangouts, WeChat, Line or WhatsApp.
- They call or text you a lot, saying they love you or feel very close to you. This is sometimes called ‘love bombing’.
- They start talking about making money through investing or buying cryptocurrency.
- They may show you how to invest and tell you to transfer a small amount of money. It seems easy, and it might look like you've made some money from your investment. You may even be able to move money around.
- The scammer tells you to invest more money. They may say your account will be frozen and your money lost if you don't ‘top it up’ or keep enough money in it.
- If you run out of money or ask for it back, they will say you have to pay more to get your money, or stop contacting you and disappear.
- All your money is gone. You don't get it back.
STOP – Don’t give personal information or act on investment advice from someone you have only met online. Don’t feel pressured to invest. If you have any doubts, stop communicating with them.
THINK – Ask yourself if you really know who you are communicating with? Scammers can use different profile pictures and lie about who they really are, especially online. Do an internet search of the person’s name, or use their photo in a reverse image search to check who they really are.
PROTECT – Act quickly if something feels wrong. Contact your bank immediately if you have invested money. Help others by reporting scams to Scamwatch.
If you've been affected
- If you have lost money, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.
- Contact the platform you were scammed on and let them know about the scam.
- Help others by reporting scams to Scamwatch.
- Tell your friends and family: it helps to share your experience, they can support you and you can help protect them from scams.