Australian romance vics send $10 million a month to scammers
Sydney Morning Herald:
Australians sending away $10m a month to online scammers
August 30, 2011
Finding romance online could cost you more than a broken heart.
Well-schooled scammers are ripping off Australian lonely hearts at the rate of more than $190,000 a day, according to Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Police fraud and corporate crime group.
Det Supt Hay on Tuesday said the majority of money being sent to internet scammers operating out of Africa went via dating sites.
"Romance fraud is number one," Det Supt Hay said.
"We have 10,000 Australians sending $10 million every month to Nigeria and Ghana and 70 per cent of those are romance fraud.
"The average loss, on our last exercise, was $28,000 per person."
The biggest dangers are free dating websites.
"If you want to throw your identity out there for the world to see, a small investment should be made for your safety and reduce the chance of victimisation," Det Supt Hay said.
One reason Australians are targeted is because a high percentage of the population is connected to the internet.
Det Supt Hay said the problem could multiply after the National Broadband Network roll-out is completed by 2015.
"It's going to be one of the biggest headaches we are going to have in the future," he said.
"Australia is one of the most connected societies on the planet, around 80 per cent.
"We have the NBN coming and a lot of remote communities are going to get involved and we may hit as high as 95 per cent (connection).
"The rest of the world on average is 23 per cent."
The vulnerability of the elderly, who have huge superannuation savings and are only just learning the perils of the internet, is also a concern for the fraud squad.
Scammers prey on the elderly in a bid to exploit their generosity or caring nature.
Others become victims because of mental illness, such as depression, or the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's.
"The recovery rate (of money) is nil," Det Supt Hay said.
"It leaves this country in cash, through international cash transfers.
"Bank account to bank account is traceable, but the bank account may be in a false name.
"It's an international organised crime industry."
A seniors forum on internet fraud held in Brisbane today heard only one to four per cent of all web scams are reported.
Silence is the scammer's best friend; knowledge is the scammer's worst enemy. 沈黙は詐欺師のよき友達、知識は詐欺師の天敵。Think globally, act globally.