Of all the scam types, dating and romance is arguably the most deceptive as the imposter usually forms a close bond with their victim, playing their emotions and gaining their trust, before taking their money and leaving them heartbroken.

The scammer’s tactics often unfold over a period of time, during which they trick you into revealing a lot of personal information about yourself, leaving you vulnerable to becoming a victim to identity crime.

A dating and romance scam typically starts with a stranger striking up a conversation with you online, whether it be on a dating platform, social media or even an online game—such as scrabble.

After developing a connection with you, they will tell you an elaborate story usually along the following themes:

  • They live or work overseas, often in the military, on oil rigs, as doctors or medical staff, or in business or trade.
  • They profess love or strong feeling towards you early in the relationship.
  • Eventually, due some unforeseen and elaborate story – they will ask you for money, and along the way they’ll extract personal information about you.
  • They will often claim to be financially well-off, with a large amount of money either incoming soon or temporarily inaccessible due to circumstances beyond their control.
  • In some cases they lure you into a fake investment ‘opportunity’, in effect becoming an investment scam where you lose money and disclose personal and financial information under the guise of the ‘investment’.
  • In the course of scam, you may reveal your name, date of birth, address, background, passwords or clues to passwords, financial and banking information, and sometimes copies of your identity documents.

Protect yourself from remote access scams

1. Be alert2. Research3. Say no
If you're approached online by a stranger, always consider that if you haven't met in person, you can't be certain who you're talking to. Refuse requests to move a conversation to a private channel as this is a tactic scammers often use to lure your conversation to somewhere where it can't be monitored. Be careful about what personal information you disclose or sensitive photographs you share with someone you don't know or trust.Run an image search of your online friend or love interest, scammers are known to steal photos of real people. You can use Google or TinEye to search images online. Search for the name of your romantic interest. Romance scammers are known to re-use their often unique fictional names. Be alert to anything that seems off, such as poor spelling and grammar, inconsistencies in their stories, or excuses for why they can't video call or meet you in person.If they ask for money, a loan, your banking details, personal identifying information about you or copies of your documents, or ask you to invest in a company they recommend - just say no. These are signs that you may be dealing with a scammer. Never agree to transfer money for someone else, money laundering is a crime.

Content supplied by the Scams Awareness Network, a group of Australian and New Zealand government agencies with responsibility for consumer protection and policing in scams, cyber safety and fraud.

*Romance baiting scams on the rise