Aussies robbed of $89 million on dating scams
AUSTRALIANS fell victim to scams totalling almost $90 million last year, with "dating and romance scams" becoming the most common rip-off.
The latest annual report on scams from the consumer watchdog found just over $89 million was lost to scams in 2012-13.
Some 90,000 Australians reported scams during the year, but despite romance scams making up only 3% of those reported, the losses of dating rip-offs totalled $25 million.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's report showed some 43% of people approached by a "scam admirer" lost money - a fall from previous years.
But ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said it was still a "high strike rate" and that people should be "particularly vigilant" when dealing with people met online.
"Scammers take advantage of the internet to establish relationships behind a smoke screen, where they remain anonymous while connecting with people around the globe with the click of a button," she said.
While more scams were attempted over the phone, at 52% of all reports, online scams seemed to rake in more cash, with $42 million reported lost on the internet.
The consumer watchdog recommended demanding a face-to-face meeting from potential scammers and checking online to see if their profiles were legitimate.
It also advised people to be wary of any online contacts asking for money or financial information, and to ask "How well do I really know this person?"