Published: 15 June 2014

Summary: People are particularly vulnerable to relationship scams. If something doesn't seem quite right, stop and ask yourself: Do I really know who I am dealing with?


TITLE TEXT: SCAMwatch – Scam of the month warning: Relationship scams

[SCAMwatch is warning people to ‘Know who you’re dealing with’ and lookout for relationship scams.]

Delia Rickard: Hi, I'm Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Scamming is an insidious practice that affects thousands of Australians each year.

People are particularly vulnerable to what the ACCC calls relationship scams.

Scammers invest considerable time and effort deceiving you into a fake romance, a fraudulent business partnership, or a complex investment scheme.

Their ultimate aim is to build your trust, so they could steal your personal details and your money.

Knowing who you're dealing is vital in protecting yourself against these relationship scams, particularly when online.

The ACCC has developed a scam identifier list, which includes five tips to help you identify and avoid relationship scammers online.

Number one: have you ever met or seen the person you're dealing with?

Scammers will say and do anything to avoid face-to-face meeting, whether in person, or over the Internet via a video chat.

Number two: Is the person you're dealing with who they appear to be?

Scammers steal photos and profiles from real people to create an appealing, likable façade. Run a Google image search on the photos and search words in their description, to check if you're dealing with the real thing.

Instructions on how to do this are available at

Number three: Has someone asked to chat with you privately?

Scammers will try and move the conversation away from the scrutiny of community platforms, where they're more likely to be detected, to one-on-one interactions such as email or phone. Walk away if this happens to you.

And number four: What do you know about the person you're dealing?

Scammers are keen to get to know you as much as possible, but often they're less forthcoming about themselves. Ask yourself: How well do I really know this person?

And number five: And this is the big one. Is the person you're dealing with asking you for money?

Once a connection's been made, and this can take weeks, months, or even years, scammers will ask you to transfer money to them.

Don't fall for their stories no matter how plausible or how heartbreaking they may sound, and never ever send money via a wire transfer to someone you've met online.

It's almost impossible to trace or recover money sent in this way. So remember, awareness is key to protecting yourself from scammers.

If something doesn't seem quite right, stop and ask yourself: Do I really know who I'm dealing with?