Online scammers on the prowl for Valentine's Day, NZ consumer protection warns

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NZN

Romantics are being warned against losing more than their heart during Valentine's Day.

Testing new gadget at work. Attentive young charming IT woman sitting in the office and using tablet while working on the project and expressing interest

Online Valentine's Day scammers use tactics like creating realistic online profiles, using fake photos and sharing information that appears genuine.

Source: istock.com

Those looking for love should also be on the watch for scams on dating apps and other online sites, the Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment says.

MBIE consumer protection manager Mark Hollingsworth says online scams are prevalent on Valentine's Day and are not always obvious.

"Scammers use tactics like creating realistic online profiles, using fake photos and sharing information that appears genuine," he said.

"They will aim to gain trust, and then seek opportunities to ask for financial support."

Balloon hearts

Mr Hollingsworth said scams were becoming increasingly sophisticated and could build up over several months before there was a request for personal details or for money.

"It's often those that are above 45 years old, financially sound and looking for a relationship that are most likely to be targeted," he said.

"Having vigilance when online dating is key, especially if engaging with a person overseas."

In 2017, Netsafe reported that $1.4 million was lost to romance scams.

Mr Hollingsworth said this was likely to be a small percentage of total losses as many people either felt ashamed about being scammed, or weren't aware they had fallen victim.

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