July 6, 2018
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 IDCARE to receive free and anonymous support and advice.