Scamwatch have released new data revealing more than $40 million was lost to romance scams in 2022. With this alarming figure in mind, Scamwatch are urging Australians to have a heart-to-heart with their loved ones this Valentine’s Day.

“Scammers are cold-hearted criminals who use unscrupulous tactics to trick their victims into sharing their personal details and emptying their wallets. As more Australians meet people through social media and mobile dating apps, it has never been more important to be absolutely sure of who you are communicating with,” ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said.

“That’s why we are asking Australians to check in with the people they love and to help them recognise the signs if a person they’ve met online isn’t real.”


What is a romance scam?

Using dating websites, apps and social media, scammers create fake online profiles and seek out people who might already be looking for romantic partners. The scammer pretends to be a potential partner, and chat with their victim through messaging and even telephone. They act very attentively, are quick to express their love, and take advantage of emotional triggers to gain a victim’s trust. This scammer tactic is known as ‘catfishing’.


What to watch out for?

Scamwatch advises of the 5 common signs of a romance scam:

They can’t meet you in person – The scammer will claim to live overseas and provide many reasons for not being able to meet in person.

Trying to invoke empathy – Scammers will try to play on a victim’s emotions by presenting stories of being divorced and with children involved.

They request help – Scammers are quick to establish a relationship so they can seek help for illness, injury, travel costs or a family crisis.

They claim they are financially stable but still ask for money – Scammers claim there’s an opportunity that will result in quick financial gain, but they just need money upfront to get involved. Or other extensive claims that require money.

They ask you to invest – Commonly, scammers are using baiting tactics to luring victims into investing in fake schemes.


Need help?

If you believe someone has gained access to your personal information, even if the scam appears unrelated to your finances, you should contact your bank immediately. A timely response can be critical in giving you the best chance to stem any loss.

  • If you have concerns about your G&C Mutual Bank account contact us on 1300 364 400.
  • If the scam occurred on social media or a legitimate website, report it to the platform involved. For scams on Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, see this step-by-step guide for reporting scams on Facebook services.
  • You can find out how scams work, how to protect yourself, what to do if you’ve been scammed or report a scam to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) via the Scamwatch website.