Dating Scams On Sites Like Words With Friends Have Cost Australians $28.6 Million

Dating Scams On Sites Like Words With Friends Have Cost Australians $28.6 Million
Image: Lauren Shuler Donner Productions


New figures show romance scams are burning a hole in Australian pockets with more than $28.6 million being fleeced on sites like Tinder, Instagram and Words With Friends in 2019.

The ACCC’s Scamwatch released figures showing dating and romance scams in 2019 costed Australians $28.6 million across 4000 reports. While the expected dating apps, like Tinder and Bumble, were on the list, the top places were rounded out by Instagram and Facebook. In terms of dating sites, Plenty of Fish had the most scam reports at 230 totalling $714,439 while Tinder had 176 reports equalling $814,415.

One of the strangest insights Scamwatch noticed, however, was that plenty of apps, not usually known for kindling romances, were also being targeted. An innocent game of Words With Friends or Scrabble, for example, could lead to a scamming attempt.

“We’ve seen an increase in reports from people who did not originally seek an online relationship but have been caught up in a dating and romance scam,” ACCC’s deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“No longer are dating websites the only contact method for dating and romance scams, with an increasing number of reports coming from these emerging websites and apps.”

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Women reported 54.9 per cent of 2019’s dating scams, according to Scamwatch’s figures, but were disproportionately affected in terms of financial loss. Out of the $28.6 million number, $21.5 million — or just over 75 per cent — were losses suffered by women. The age bracket most affected were people aged 45 – 64 who represented 63 per cent, or over $18 million, of the total losses.

A little more than a third, $9.7 million, of the losses were done via bank transfers followed by another 30.8 per cent reported to be in gift cards from iTunes, Steam and Google Play.

Dating scam losses by websites or app

Reports Losses
Other 849 $6,215,601
Online dating site 665 $7,832,089
Instagram 347 $975,925
Facebook 325 $2,077,224
Tinder 176 $814,415
Skype 90 $757,580
Viber 23 $909,359
LinkedIn 21 $130,000
Twitter 16 $5,820
eBay 2 $1,082

Apps or websites under the Other total included Plenty of Fish, Google Hangouts, Zoosk, Match.com, Words with Friends, Bumble, eHarmony and Kik.

Scamwatch’s Rickard recommends being vigilant with people online and avoiding sharing too many personal details.

“If you’re interacting with someone online, it’s important to be alert and consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam,” Rickard said.

“Don’t give out personal information, including your financial details, to anybody you haven’t met in person, no matter who they say they are, and don’t share intimate photos or use webcams in an intimate setting.

“Don’t agree to carry packages internationally or agree to transfer money for someone else as you may be inadvertently committing a crime.

“If you become concerned by the conversation, such as if the person is asking for ‘favours’ or money, cease communication.”

If you do fall victim to a dating scam, you can report the situation to Scamwatch and follow these steps to get help.

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