Love hack, baby

LOVE HURTS: State government is warning people to be wary of romance scammers. Picture: FILE.

ROMANCE online is common, and unfortunately so are romance scammers.

As Valentines Day nears, the state government is warning lovers to be on high alert, as $2 million was lost by South Australians to romance scammers last year.

Last year, Australians lost more than $30 million to dating and romance scammers, according to data from the National Anti-Scam Centre’s Scamwatch with more than $14 million lost to romance scammers via social media.

Romance scammers often profess love and affection very quickly to try to influence their targets often coming up with elaborate stories about why they need money urgently.

They may also convince people to take out money for a fake investment, often saying it’s in cryptocurrency.

Practical steps people can take to protect themselves in the world of online dating include:

– Do a reverse-image search on Google or TinEye, which can help determine if their profile image is legitimate.

– Arrange to meet in person in a safe place, or ask to speak via video

– Watch out for any request to send them money through methods such as money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded cards, or electronic currency, like bitcoin.

If you are the victim of a scam, it is difficult to recover money sent through these methods.

Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs Andrea Michaels warned people to be vigilant online.

“Looking for love online can make you vulnerable and unfortunately, this is what scammers look for as they seek to gain your trust before leaving you both broke and broken hearted,” Michaels said.

“Seeking love online is common, you’ve just got to exercise some caution to ensure you end up being romanced, not robbed.”

If you think you have been scammed, get in touch with your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.