What is a romance scam?
A dating or romance scam is where scammers gain your trust by pretending to have strong feelings for you and then asking you for money, your personal or financial details, or to transport money or goods for them.
Relationship or Friendship scams, similar to romance scams, are where a scammer may pose as a friend or family member.
They may also be after your personal information for identity theft or to unwittingly carry out illegal activities such as money laundering.
Be cautious of new investment opportunities they may provide to you, and always speak to a third party (like your bank) to validate if it might be a scam or not.
Example of scam*
Mr Smith met Maureen online - she lives overseas. Although they never met face to face, within 4 months they were engaged.
Maureen indicated she was involved in a serious accident and needed money for her medical bills. Mr Smith completed 10 transfers totalling $320k. Once Maureen knew she had successfully taken all of Mr Smith’s life savings she ceased all contact with him.
Mr Smith started to realise this didn’t feel right so he spoke to his bank in an attempt recover his funds. Unfortunately, time is of the essence and Maureen had already withdrawn all the funds in cash and therefore in this case the funds were unrecoverable.
Signs this may be a scam
They ask to chat in another messaging platform.
Be wary. Consider the possibility this may be a scam if they try and move the conversation immediately to a different messaging platform like Whatsapp.
They ask you for money to help them out.
Do not pay money or give access to your banking or personal details to someone you have not met in person. Avoid emotions in financial decisions.
They ask you to deliver goods or packages.
Do not do this. They may be asking you to carry out illegal activities like money laundering or transporting illegal goods.
What you can do if you
come across a scam
Let us know
- Please report scams or suspicious activity immediately to Westpac at 132 032 or +61 2 9155 7700 (if calling from overseas).
- Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or SMS/text messages to 0497 132 032 then delete the email or message.
- You can also report all suspicious activity to the Australian Cyber Security Centre at cyber.gov.au/report.
Get support and stay in the know
- IDCARE provides free, confidential support and guidance to those impacted by fraud, scams, identity theft or compromise. Call them toll-free on 1800 595 160 or visit idcare.org.
- Keep up to date on scams by subscribing to the government's scam email alerts from scamwatch.gov.au/subscribe.
- Check out our latest scams, for copies of recently reported scams at westpac.com.au/scams.
ScamSpot: a series of 2-minute bites to help spot the latest scams
Things you should know
* Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.