Everybody’s got a hungry heart when it comes to online dating scams, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission revealed this week.
This follows their finding that romance scammers working through dating apps and social media have fleeced more than $60 million a year from Australian women through tried and true frauds including posing as innocent men in jail, businessmen in exotic foreign locations, military personnel on overseas deployment, and widowers with children.
One of the Australia’s top cyber agencies said that the tactics of these con-artists included implausible stories, psychological abuse, and coercive control targeting emotionally-vulnerable and lonely individuals.
The ACCC said that it received about 4000 dating and romance scam complaints last year, worth almost $30m, which it described as “the tip of the iceberg”.
“In 2018, Australians reported losses of $60.5m to romance fraud, up from $42m the year before,” a spokesperson said.
The figure represents the second-highest category of financial loss behind investment fraud — such as the infamous “My husband was the Finance Minister for Burkina Faso…” email chain — with those more than 45 the most vulnerable.
Confirmed romance scams reported included for the popular platforms Instagram, Tinder, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, Google Hangouts, Words with Friends and eHarmony.
People aged between 45 and 64 are considered a high-risk group commonly targeted for grooming and “gaslighting”; manipulating events to make a vulnerable person feel that they are emotionally-unstable.Similar incidents in Britain and the United States have skyrocketed in the past two years, with high-profile cases in Australia exposing the dangers of online dating apps.