E23: Don’t be fooled by romance scams!

Romance scams are more common than you think, and now operate on a global scale.

Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) believes romance scams are the worst type of scam, they devastate people financially and emotionally. Victims are women and men equally.

Delia has been some tragedies in her investigations; people lose their money, their homes and friends who loaned money or offered advice. She has seen many often lonely people cruelly emotionally manipulated.

She’s very familiar with the modus operandi of scammers, and they tend to follow a pattern. Often men will say they are from the American military, women will be in the caring professions. They will be overseas, or there will be reasons why they are unable to meet face to face at present. She says skilled scammers can be tricking up to thirty people at once.

Delia advises doing a google image search, using a reverse image search. That will tell you if their image has been used before. If the person asks for money, even after several months, that tells you it’s a scam. Don’t trust anyone you can’t meet for a coffee she advises. If you haven’t had an in-person meeting, never send money or provide bank details no matter how worthy or desperate their pleas seem. Cease communicating.

If you have a friend you think maybe being conned expose them to others’ experiences who have been victims of scams. Stories are available on the Scamwatch website along with information on how to recognise romance scammers and how to avoid them. There’s also the Little Black Book of Scams, also available in hard copy from Scamwatch.

Delia Rickard also advises about a current scam where a caller will pretend to be from Amazon or Paypal and claim you have been overcharged for an item. To get the money refunded they ask for access to your computer to get the refund for you.

No matter what the excuse, how compelling the caller is, never give remote access to your computer.

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