The Chronicle: Stay grounded when love is in the air

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and it’s a time when those in love, or those courting love, splash out on red roses, heart shaped balloons, chocolates, teddy bears and pink champagne.

It’s also a time when those looking for love feel the lack of romance in their life particularly keenly.

Many of my single friends have given up trying to meet someone through work or speed dating. Instead, they've turned to online dating, and they’ve invariably had success.

But for all its benefits in finding a soul mate, a recent analysis of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission scam data demographics by the University of Canberra’s Centre for Internet Safety found that dating and romance scams take the 2014 record for fleecing lonely hearts.

From January to October 2014, Australians lost more than $64 million from reported scams. That’s $5.20 for every Australian internet user.

And dating and romance scams cost victims more than $20 million, with 45-54 year old women and men losing the most – $3.6 million and $1.5 million respectively.

Twenty percent of dating and romance scam victims fell prey when they were approached through social networking sites. And almost 20 percent were approached via email.

So please, be careful when you are looking for love. Be on guard for scammers who set up fake profiles of highly successful business people working overseas or dazzlingly gorgeous women or men who are asking for money, gifts or personal details.

And keep up to date with the latest advice on scams at www.scamwatch.gov.au

Because if it’s too good to be true – even with the sweet and tender romance of Valentine’s Day in the air – it probably is.

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