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Tales from the dark side of online dating: ‘I was scammed by an online love rat, too’

Online sweetheart scam victims in Australia explain how they got bamboozled, but the stories, warnings and tips resonate for online daters everywhere.

This story from features some heartbreaking accounts from victims with classic insights on how they got slammed. Austrailians alone reporting losing $28 million in 2014 to sweetheart scams and dating frauds, and officials there say the losses are conservative. Says Austrailian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard in the story:

“Many people are too embarrassed to admit they’ve been scammed,” Rickard says.

“People have mortgaged their house and borrowed from friends and family so it breaks down family relationships. It can ruin them financially and the emotional toll is enormous, with attempted suicides in some cases.

“It is a hideous crime.”

It's also a sophisticated organized crime with operations often in West Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, the UK and Eastern Europe, Rickard says in the story.

“There are call centres with people running multiple relationships. Some scammers are individuals, but most we know of involve syndicates.”

She says cons tend to follow a pattern — the scammer stalks their victim on social media and dating sites to get a sense of their likes, dislikes and values.

“So when this person pops up, they have all these things in common with you,” Rickard says.

Check out the story for warning tips and great tips on sidestepping scammers.