This week, our identity analysts have been focusing on the workflow of relationship scams based on IDCARE's analysis of 583 relationship scam cases reported from 2014 to 2018, resulting in an average of 1,399 client contacts, and 466 hours of expert counselling services. Romance scams are complex; emotionally violating, financially crippling and can leave the victim and their family reeling with shock for years.
Scammers use specific and highly validating narrative to gently groom the victim into a‘loved-up’ state so powerful, that they agree to part with money, often over an extended period of time. The victim never sees their ‘love interest’ face to face and most communication happens via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Viber. The messaging schedule is relentless, pervasive and highly validating.
This narrative produces a physiological effect in the victim’s brain, through powerful neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These brain chemicals increase levels of trust, bonding and deep feelings of love and euphoria. This is the reason victims are convinced to send money; they want to be supportive in the ‘relationship’. Requests for money are often quite plausible, such as needing the funds to buy airline tickets to come and see the victim. Motivation to send money is high because the victim wants to meet their love interest and continue to build the envisioned future together.
Relationship scams cost Australians and New Zealanders a total of $21,045,822 over this period, with an average loss of $117,575 per event. Only $578,400 total was reportedly recovered. Victims on average, took 5 and a half months to realise their involvement in a relationship scam, and had an average of 3.93 credentials compromised during their event. These events result in considerable emotional and mental health impacts. Slightly less than half of relationship scam victims experienced a subsequent identity fraud; such as new mobile phone accounts established in the victim’s name, unauthorised access to the victim’s superannuation account, manipulation of the individual’s social media accounts, and damage to their reputation.
IDCARE's community counselling services are available for family and friends of relationship scam victims as well as individuals directly and currently engaged with scammers. If you or anyone you know may be experiencing relationship scams, contact IDCAREto receive free and anonymous support and advice.
IDCARE is here to provide you with specialist support and guidance when faced with a cyber and identity related issue. Contact one of our Identity & Cyber Security Case Managers to learn more about our Support Services and how we can help you.
IDCARE as a registered charity does not ask individuals to donate or pay for our front line services. We are not a charity that can receive tax deductible donations. We rely on organisations that care enough about you to care about us to keep our charitable service going. Proudly these organisations are displayed above and on our Subscriber Organisations page. If you are asked for payment from someone claiming to be from IDCARE, please report this to us using our Report Phishing email.
IDCARE has access to the Department of Social Services’ Free Interpreting Service, delivered by the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National). Access to the Free Interpreting Service is provided to assist you to communicate with non-English speaking people who hold a Medicare card. Please note that the service does not extend to New Zealand citizens or residents who do not hold an Australian Medicare card, or to tourists, overseas students or people on temporary work visas.
New Zealand Relay provides services to help Deaf, hearing impaired, speech impaired, Deafblind and standard phone users communicate with their peers. A TTY user connects to New Zealand Relay via a toll-free number and types their conversation to a Relay Assistant (RA) who then reads out the typed message to a standard phone user (hearing person).
The RA relays the hearing person's spoken words by typing them back to the Textphone (TTY) User.
The National Relay Service (NRS) is an Australian government initiative that allows people who are deaf, hard of hearing and/or have a speech impairment to make and receive phone calls.
The NRS is available 24 hours a day, every day and relays more than a million calls each year throughout Australia.