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Australians Lost $28m To Romance Scams in 2014

ACCCAustralians were scammed out of over $80m last year, according to new figures.

And out of all reported scams, $28m was lost from online dating-related fraud.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said they received a total of 91,637 scam complaints last year.

These figures come from their Targeting Scams Report for 2014, which was released this week.

However despite these numbers, for the second consecutive year, the reported financial losses decreased – dropping 8% from the year before.

There was also a decrease in the number of people reporting losses – only 12% reported losing money from fraud in 2014, compared to 14% in 2013.

But online dating still remains the number one scam – accounting for $28m of losses from online fraud.

Last year, the ACCC launched their Scam Detection project, which contacted people who were sending large amounts of money to high risk jurisdictions and warned them.

Of those that were subsequently confirmed as victims, 75% were involved in online dating scams, and 70% of those who received a letter stopped sending money.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said: “Results of the ACCC’s 2014 internet sweep of dating sites were mixed and point to the need for greater efforts within that industry to adopt better practices to protect their customers.

“Working again with the online industry to review and promote the Best Practice Guidelines will therefore be another area of focus for 2015. It really does make good business sense for organisations to invest time and effort into minimising fraud occurring through their services or platforms.”

Last year, the ACCC received 2,497 reports of online dating fraud, of which 1,032 reported losing money.

There were 659 who gave less than $10,000, and 81 who sent over $100,000 to scammers.

And the total of reported online dating fraud in 2014, just under $28m, was higher than 2013 – when there was $25m of losses.

Online dating fraud also has one of the highest conversion rates – with 41.3% of those who reported fraud losing money.

In the report, the ACCC said: “For the fourth consecutive year the ACCC has observed a decrease in the percentage of people who responded to an approach by a scam admirer and subsequently lost money–this conversion rate fell from 48 per cent in 2011 to 41 per cent in 2014.

“While it is encouraging that more people are recognising these scams and avoiding losing money, the percentage of those reporting losses is still very high compared to other scam categories. This indicates the effectiveness of a scam that has at its basis the exploitation of a relationship that can be carried out over a long time–in some instances years.”

Interestingly, the ACCC found that 30% of dating scams reported meeting through social networking sites or online forums.

Check out the full report here.

Simon Edmunds

Simon is the former editor of Global Dating Insights. Born in Newcastle, he has an English degree from Queen Mary, London and after working for the NHS, trained as a journalist with the Press Association. Passionate about music, journalism and Newcastle United.

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