The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission watchdog has estimated that $200 million was lost to romance scammers in 2021. And this figure represents a 44% increase on the previous year.

Scammers are becoming ever more sophisticated in the lengths they go to, some spending many months building up trust with potential targets.

Anyone can fall victim to this type of scam, and it appears that the pandemic could be contributing to the increase, with isolation and loneliness partly to blame.  COVID-19 has also made it easier for scammers to find an excuse for not meeting up with potential romantic partners in person.

Over 55’s most at risk

People over 55 make up half the losses reported to the watchdog’s Scamwatch, and nearly three in five victims were women. Scammers, who often get in contact on social networking sites and online forums, are usually quick to profess their strong romantic feelings before asking for money, personal details or even offering help with an “investment”.

What do romance scammers want?

In general, financial gain. That could be directly asking for money (with various plausible reasons as to why they can’t access their own), or they could be after banking or personal information for identity theft.

Warning signs

  • They try and move the conversation immediately to a different messaging platform such as WhatsApp
  • They express strong attachment, or romantic love, after a very short period of time
  • They make a plea for help – money, access to banking or personal details
  • They ask you to transfer money – or even deliver goods or packages

Protecting yourself

At State Super, we take the protection of our member’s personal and financial information very seriously, and you can play a key part by keeping your account information safe and secure.

The basic guideline is - do not pay money or give personal details to someone you have not met in person. Avoid emotions in financial decisions.

Scammers can also try to obtain information via email/SMS or provide you with genuine looking documentation. If you receive an unexpected message that asks you to click a link, DO NOT click on the link.

If you have already passed on personal information, either over the phone or via email, that has you concerned, please get in touch so we can place additional security measures on your account.

To ensure you are speaking to a State Super customer service team member be aware that;

  • We will always advise you that the call is being recorded for training and coaching purposes
  • We willingly provide our names and where we are calling from
  • If we’re unable to get in touch, we will leave a telephone number (which you can verify by checking the State Super “Contact us” website page) and a reference number for you to quote when you call us back

Stay informed

Keep up to date on scams by subscribing to the government’s scam email alerts from scamwatch.gov.au/subscribe. Or, to learn more about how to spot the latest superannuation scams and where to report them, visit the ASIC moneysmart government website https://moneysmart.gov.au/how-super-works/superannuation-scams