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Australian authorities have warned the public of new Valentine’s Day scams aimed at singles.
Data sources have revealed that there is a rising threat of Valentine scams targeting single people across Australia. The legal authorities received an anonymous tip comprising a how-to-manual detailing a step-by-step financial scam, termed “pig butchering” or “romance baiting.” This scam is carried out by text and is primarily targeted toward young individuals who are actively seeking a partner on online dating platforms, forums, or chat rooms.
In a standard case, the perpetrator cold texts the victim under a fake identity and tries to gain their trust. This is carried out by using stolen information on legitimate users, which is used to generate pseudo-accounts that imitate real users. The scammer invests a lot of time in gaining the victim’s trust through chat by initiating personal conversations and utilizing other techniques to deceive the victim. Once the target is comfortable and starts trusting the pseudo account, the perpetrators subject them to financial scams, ranging from loan requests to investment opportunities.
The scammer usually adopts the persona of a wealthy, good-looking man or woman with assets in the share market, cryptocurrency, or stocks. The primary purpose of this impersonation is to eliminate any suspicions that may arise on the victim’s end. An average user may fall for this scam, as it is difficult to distinguish between these curated pseudo accounts.
Australian Federal Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Cybercrime Command, Chris Goldsmid, said, “Over months or years, the scammer will flaunt a lavish lifestyle and leave a trail of comments about their wealth, such as bragging about the value in their cryptocurrency wallets. Once victims ask how they are making their money, they are directed to a complete replica of an investment site that shows the growth of an investment. When the victim sends money to invest, they are provided with weekly, monthly, or yearly investment statements showing continual growth. Often, the victim provides even more money to invest.”
According to recorded figures, Australians lost an average of $40 million to scams in 2022. This resulted in up to $109,000 a day, or $4500 an hour, and these losses have steadily increased over the years.
The Australian police are currently warning people to be cautious of these scams. Anyone who believes they have fallen victim to a scam is now being urged to report it to ReportCyber. In the case of an immediate safety threat, individuals are suggested to dial 000.