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18 Feb, 2014

Australian Police post warning about online romance scams


Canberra, (ACBPS media release) – The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) is warning the Australian community about the risks associated with online romance scams.

Each year hundreds of thousands of Australians visit online dating and social websites hoping to find love. Unfortunately it is has also become a target for scammers.

More and more people are becoming the victim of scammers who troll online dating websites in search of lonely Australians. Their most common targets are middle aged women and men aged 30-55 years old.

Scammers may take months to build what seems like the romance of a lifetime. Once they have gained your trust they will ask you for a favour. This may include bringing packages into Australia for them.

ACBPS Regional Director NSW, Tim Fitzgerald is warning travellers to never carry or send packages for other people if you do not know what is inside them.

“ACBPS is investigating a number of incidents where people have unknowingly been used as drug mules. In particular, cases of people bringing packages into Australia or sending packages to Australia for others that are laced with drugs.

“This is not a new phenomenon. It has been reported in the media on many occasions, however, we are seeing an increase in these cases at the border”, Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Scammers continue to change their approach to gain your trust. Online dating sites are just one area that they have expanded into. If you are asked to bring packages back to Australia or receive packages from overseas you may be inadvertently importing illegal drugs and will be subject to law enforcement action.”

If you believe that you may be a victim of a scam and are in a foreign country there is help available to you:

  • Seek help from an Australian Embassy or Consulate if it is safe to do so.
  • Call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who operate Smarttraveller 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 for advice and help.
  • If you can’t avoid carrying packages, because your life is at risk, seek help from a Customs and Border Protection officer at the border immediately.
  • Report to Customs Watch by calling 1800 06 1800.

Don’t have your heart broken and wind up in trouble with the law. Do you really know the people you meet over the internet?

Anyone with information on any related scam should contact Crime Stoppers or Scam Watch.