Updated 14 February 2023
If you have begun chatting with a person online after meeting on an internet dating or social networking website and that person requests money, it will likely be a fraud or scam. Sometimes you might see this happen to someone you know. Scammers are very clever and many smart people have fallen prey to their complex schemes. It can be hard to convince one of your friends or family they are actually communicating with a scammer, even if you can clearly see the signs.
What to do if you have been scammed:
- Stop sending any money immediately. If you have sent money, contact your financial institution ASAP.
- Report the scam to the Australian Cyber Security Centre via www.cyber.gov.au
- Seek assistance from WA ScamNet or other service providers - see our Help for Victims page.
- Block their profile or email address - you may need to change your email.
- Run a virus scanner through your device (computer, phone, tablet etc.) or physically get an IT specialist or computer technician to check the device. This can be done by attending a computer shop.
- Report the scam to WA ScamNet via ‘Report a scam’
WA ScamNet’s top tips to avoid relationship fraud:
- Do not respond to out-of-the-blue social media messages from strangers, such as a friend request on Facebook, WhatsApp or in App chats.
- Be on your guard if someone you meet on an online dating site asks you to move to email or instant messaging such as Messenger, WhatsApp or Hangout.
- Be wary of overseas-based singles especially if they confess their love for you after a short amount of time or want to know about your financial status.
- Remember that just because someone shares personal photos does not mean the pictures are of them – scammers often steal other people’s photos.
- Don’t be fooled into thinking that talking to somebody on the phone means you know them and that they are who they say there are.
- Be concerned if a person refuses to chat real-time via a webcam and be mindful that even video chat is not scammer proof – watch out for pre-recorded videos.
- Alarm bells should ring if someone you do not know personally (i.e. have met face-to-face) requests money, particularly by a wire transfer service (e.g. Western Union) or direct bank transfers. This money could be going to an account set up by a scammer with a stolen identity.
In a twist on the original scam, at WA ScamNet stories have been reported where a victim calls out the scam but then the scammer will flip the story around. The scammer can go on to threaten the victim with fake legal action or threats to their life. Sometimes the victim continues communicating because they still hope there’s a chance to get their money back. Unfortunately there is no way the scammer will give back your money so do not continue communicating or send any more funds.
Some of the reasons a scammer will give to continue the interaction and ask for more money include:
- They pretend to be from law enforcement or government agencies and offer scam compensation, even though no such scheme exists.
- They pretend to be a supposed doctor calling to alert you that the scammer had attempted suicide and needs medical bills paid or they will not survive.
- They pretend to be a woman contacting you to explain she is the scammer’s wife and he beats her but she wants to leave but needs money.
- They claim the scammer is facing jail unless more money is sent.
- They pretend to be a celebrity who needs assistance with their new movie or TV series and you’re the only one that can help.
- They pretend to be working in the military but are hoping to leave. They need you to act as a family member requesting they quit, including providing your identity documents and money.
- They pretend to be a business person needing to do an urgent trip for the company. They will go on to either say they’ve lost their wallet or can’t access financial items or they’ve had an accident and need urgent care.
These excuses are designed to trigger your emotions and make you act before thinking. We encourage you to always take a moment to think before taking action and ask someone else's opinion if you're not sure.
If you would like to be alerted of the latest scams in WA, please add your name and email address in the boxes below and click the blue button to subscribe:
Help and Support
- Help for scam victims
- Personal info recovery
- Personal information stolen
- Fell in love - with a scammer
- Social profile hacked
- Facebook identity stolen
- Clean up your device
- Financial recovery
- Wise up to scams