Skip to main content Skip to main navigation
Skip to access and inclusion page Skip to search input

What is a romance or relationship scam?

Scammers gain your trust by developing a relationship with you that you believe is real and genuine. You may think you are speaking with a romantic partner, friend, or even a relative. However, their actual motivations are to:

  • Steal your money
  • Steal your personal or financial details
  • Get you to transport stolen money or illegal goods for them


Scammers use fake profiles and identities to contact you on:

  • Social media platforms
  • Online dating apps and websites
  • Messaging apps


Anyone can become the target of a relationship or romance scam, with those involved often unable to self-identify. It’s important to know the warning signs to help protect and support your loved ones.

Signs this may be a scam

They ask to chat in another messaging platform.

They try and move the conversation immediately to a different messaging platform like WhatsApp. If there's photos of them, do a reverse image search through TinEye or Google.

They express strong feelings in a short time span.

They declare their love in a relatively short period of time, also known as ‘love bombing’. They may also insist that you keep the relationship a secret from family and friends.

They avoid video calls.

They always have an excuse to avoid a video call. If they do agree, it’s of poor quality or there’s no video at all due to ‘technical issues’. Do an internet search of the scammer’s name to look for reports on scam sites.

They ask for money or favours.

Remove emotions from financial decisions and never send money or give them access to your banking or personal details. They may also be asking you to invest your money or to carry out illegal activities like money laundering or transporting illegal goods.

Example of scam*

Jane, a widow, matched Tim on an online dating site. He was also a widow, working and living overseas. Despite the distance, things were moving very quickly as Tim and Jane seemed to have almost everything in common. Tim insisted on moving their conversation to WhatsApp as his membership to the dating platform was about to expire.

Jane was excited to finally meet Tim face-to-face, as he had planned a trip for him to fly to her so they could meet. Unfortunately, Tim had to cancel the trip as his daughter had fallen severely ill and needed immediate medical attention. Tim asked Jane to send money to help cover the bills as they weren’t covered by their insurance. Jane didn’t hesitate to help as she knew Tim would do the same for her son who is about the same age.


After transferring more money over a few weeks, Jane admitted to Tim she couldn’t afford to help financially anymore, and he stopped all contact with her. After speaking with her bank, they informed her she’d been the target of a romance scam, and that her money was unrecoverable as it’d already been withdrawn in cash.

What you can do if you
come across a scam

Helping a loved one

  • Talk to them and share your concerns, particularly about the warning signs you’ve noticed
  • Use anything you’ve found suspicious from searching the scammer’s name on the internet or from a reverse image search as evidence
  • Research romance scam case studies to point out the similarities to their own relationship
  • Get them to contact their bank if they’ve sent any money to the scammer
  • If you or someone you know has incurred financial loss to a romance scam, report the scam to the Australian Government’s cybercrime website at

Remember: gently initiate the conversation from a place of supportive concern. Emotional distress is amplified by feelings of shame for anyone caught up in this type of scam. Avoid using blame, this will only heighten the emotions of those involved. Those heavily involved in a romantic conversation have often been coached by the scammer to shut down or isolate themselves from these types of conversations.

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
  • Keep up to date on scams by subscribing to the government's scam email alerts from
  • Check out our latest scams, for copies of recently reported scams at


Spot a romance scam in under 2 minutes

Latest Scams

To stay in the loop, and stay protected, check out our list of the latest phishing scams impersonating Westpac.

Report a scam

If you receive any suspicious calls, emails or SMS, or notice unusual activity on your account, it’s important that you let us know.

Security Wellbeing Check

To help keep you up to date with the latest security features, we’ve introduced the Security Wellbeing Check in the Westpac App.

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.