When love hurts: Bank of Queensland raises alert on romance scams

13 February 2024

  • Number of romance scams reported by BOQ jumped by almost 50% last year
  • Men make up the majority of reported cases
  • Those aged 55-64 years most likely to be deceived
  • The five warnings signs everyone needs to know

Australians looking for romance are being cautioned to remain watchful for scammers to avoid becoming broke and broken-hearted.

New Bank of Queensland (BOQ) insights ahead of Valentine’s Day reveal an almost 50% increase in the number of romance scams reported to the bank last year.

Romance scammers use dating or friendship to steal your heart and your money. They typically create fake online identities designed to lure you in. Once they’ve gained your trust, scammers use your new found relationship to request that you send them money or gifts or gain your assistance in transferring money.

Scamwatch received around 3,400 reports of dating and romance scams last year, with more than $33 million lost.

People aged 55-64 are particularly vulnerable to this type of scam, losing $10 million with more than 400 incidents reported.

While women are reporting the highest dollar value losses ($23m) to romance scams, men are making the higher number of reports (1,984 reports), Scamwatch found.

BOQ’s General Manager of Financial Crime, Benjamin Hargreaves said: “With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and romance scams on the rise, we’re encouraging our customers to remain vigilant against scammers in all aspects of digital life.

“Romance scams often leave victims struggling with significant emotional trauma. Not only do they have to deal with the financial impact, but they also must come to terms with the realisation that the relationship – which may have been cultivated over months or even years – is not real.

“Safeguarding our customers from fraud and scams is one of BOQ Group’s key priorities. As a bank, we're significantly investing into our fraud technology uplift every year and collaborating with government and industry including the Scam-Safe Accord.

“BOQ is also rolling out a new series of educational face-to-face sessions across 147 branches to help communities safely navigate scams and fraud. Local community, social and sporting community groups are encouraged to contact their local BOQ branch to arrange a session for their members.”

How to spot a romance scammer

  • If you're talking to someone new online, watch out for these common signs of a scammer:
  • They 'love bomb' you very quickly, and express strong feelings in a very short period.
  • They try to move your conversation to a new platform - for example, off a dating app and onto Whatsapp.
  • A scammer might encourage secrecy about your relationship, to isolate you from your family and friends, so you only trust them.
  • Constant excuses as to why they can't meet in person or talk on camera.
  • They have a sudden 'emergency' that they need financial help with, like a physical injury or illness, travel costs, or a family emergency.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Never send money to people you haven't met. If you're online connection asks for money, stop all contact right away. Do not send money, or any personal or financial details. Never agree to transfer money on their behalf - this could be considered money laundering and is a criminal offence.
  • Check the person is who they say they are. Ask a lot of questions and watch out for things that don't make sense. You can spot a fake profile with photos that look too professional, a profile with very little information and very few comments, likes or shares from other people.
  • Be careful of what you share with anyone new online, including any images or pictures of yourself - these can be used as blackmail. Never share details of your identity documents like your driver’s licence, Medicare, or passport, or share your bank account or credit/debit card information.

For more information on how BOQ protects customers or what to do if you think your account is at risk, refer to boq.com.au/fraud-and-scams. BOQ also recommends other government and industry supports such as Scamwatch, IDCARE and The Australian Cyber Security Centre.


For any media enquiries, please contact: Mediarelations@boq.com.au