Social media scam crimes on rise, warns ACCC

RISKY BUSINESS: Be careful when falling in love online, warns the ACCC.
RISKY BUSINESS: Be careful when falling in love online, warns the ACCC.

WOMEN are twice more likely than men to fall victim to romantic frauds, the ACCC has warned ahead of Valentines Day.

About $20.5 million was lost in dating and romance scams last year, with people aged 45 and over most likely to be targeted.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard warned scam activity through social media was also on rise, up by 30 per cent compared to 2016.

“Social media has overtaken online dating sites as the most common way for dating and romance scammers to contact potential victims,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“If you’re going on social media, a dating site or app to find a potential Mr or Ms Right, it’s important to keep your guard up to a scammer’s advances.”

Top tips to spotting a fraud

Western Union refunds

People swindled after transferring money over Western Union may be able to recoup their losses.

ACCC acting chair Michael Schaper said Western Union had agreed to pay a $586 million penalty to the United States’ Department of Justice after admitting to aiding and abetting wire fraud.

“The DOJ is using this penalty to provide refunds to eligible people worldwide, including Australian scam victims, who were tricked into paying scammers via Western Union,” Mr Schaper said.

“This includes victims of dating and romance scammers.”

Australian scam victims have until May 31 to apply. 

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