WHILE some may see February 14 as the most romantic day of the year, con artists see it as an opportunity to take advantage of those looking for love.
To help you avoid the pain of a broken heart and an empty bank account, police have compiled a list of of scammers to watch out for this Valentine's Day.
Who to watch out for:
"Let's take this to the next level"
Be careful about over-sharing, especially early in a relationship or with someone you've just met online. Take it slow with your personal information including your birth date, address, middle name and maiden name, or any financial information.
The stage five clinger
Valentine's Day is often the start of a 'grooming' period for scammers. If you meet someone online and after just a few DM's they profess strong feelings for you, be suspicious.
"We should keep this a secret"
Be wary if someone you've met on social media or a dating site wants to quickly move to a private mode of communication such as private email or text.
"Show me yours, I'll show you mine"
Don't share intimate photos or use webcams in an intimate setting with someone you don't know or trust. Scammers can use these photos or webcam recordings to blackmail their victims.
Don't agree to transfer money for someone else. If someone asks for payment information including bank routing details, mother's maiden name, credit card numbers, report it immediately.
The spammer scammer
Identity harvesting is the most popular scam for this period; beware of Valentine's Day e-cards that appear in your email inbox. If opened, they may download malicious software on your device. Scammers can use the harvested information and pictures to create fake identities or to target you directly with a scam.
Follow these tips on how you can avoid getting caught in a bad romance.
- Ask questions and look for inconsistencies in their online profile compared to what they tell you. Search to see if there have been any reported scams that sound similar to the story given to you by your new online romance.
- Take note of unusual spelling and grammar mistakes. Watch for poorly written, vague messages. Use Google's 'reverse image search' function to check if their profile photos appear elsewhere on the internet.
- Ensure access to your social media accounts is restricted to known friends only.
- Update your security settings and passwords.
- If you've met someone online, make sure you talk to someone (a close friend/family member) about your new love interest. Pay attention if friends and family members raise concerns.
- If you have been the victim of a scam, report it. Gather all the available information, including the scammers' profile name, how you made contact, social media screenshots and email. These may help police track down the person or people involved.
If you have lost money, given remote access to your device or given over your personal particulars, report this to ReportCyber (www.cyber.gov.au/report)