Ro­mance fraud­sters turn more to so­cial media

Fak­ers hit Face­book

Townsville Bulletin - - CLASSIFIEDS -

THE con­sumer watchdog wants Face­book and other net­work­ing sites to help break up fake ro­mances as scam­mers in­creas­ingly use so­cial media to tar­get their vic­tims.

The Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion wants the so­cial media sites to help iden­tify ro­mance scam­mers, who cost Aus­tralians $ 27.9 mil­lion last year.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said con­tact from ro­mance scam­mers now of­ten hap­pened through so­cial media, mainly Face­book.

“There’s still a lot from dat­ing sites, but we’re see­ing al­most as many com­plaints com­ing from peo­ple who first met the scam­mer on Face­book, which is wor­ry­ing,” Ms Rickard said.

About 30 per cent of vic­tims met the scam­mer through so­cial net­work­ing sites, ACCC data for 2014 shows.

Ms Rickard said the scam­mers of­ten stalked their vic­tims on so­cial media, get­ting a sense of some­one’s likes, dis­likes and so­cial val­ues, so it felt as though there was an in­stant con­nec­tion when they did make con­tact online.

The ACCC has been run­ning a scam dis­rup­tion pro­ject for the past year – try­ing to stop po­ten­tial vic­tims from send­ing money to scam­mers, us­ing fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence to iden­tify Aus­tralians send­ing funds to sus­pect coun­tries and ad­vis­ing them that they may have been tar­geted by a scam.

It is also up­dat­ing best prac­tice guide­lines for the dat­ing and ro­mance in­dus­try, which cover pro­vid­ing warn­ings to con­sumers, the com­plaint- han­dling process, and work­ing be­hind the scenes to iden­tify scam­mers and keep them off the sites.

Ms Rickard said the ACCC now wanted to ex­tend the work it had done with the dat­ing in­dus­try to so­cial media plat­forms.

“We’re start­ing work look­ing at what we ex­pect so­cial media plat­forms to be do­ing to iden­tify scam­mers and keep them off.

“There’s a lot of work we’re try­ing to do with in­ter­me­di­aries to stop money reach­ing scam­mers and to stop scam­mers reach­ing vic­tims in the first place.”

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