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No love lost: Kiwis losing millions annually to online romance scams

Online Scams

No love lost: Kiwis losing millions annually to online romance scams

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West Coast beekeeper Roy Arbon lost a fortune in a series of elaborate scams. Photo / Loading Docs

Kiwis are losing millions of dollars a year to romance scams, according to the police’s financial crime unit.

Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Allan says they’re receiving a “consistent stream” of reports from people who have been scammed by a potential love interest they met online or via a dating app.

Allan says the scam usually begins with a match on a reputable dating site, and the scammer then moves the conversation to WhatsApp.

From here, they have a story about being a wealthy businessman or military staff based overseas – once trust has been gained, they request money from their victim.

Often, they prefer cryptocurrency but sending cash or requesting a bank transfer is also common.

Allan says an investigation into the scams indicates they are usually run by an organised crime group based offshore and are scamming multiple people at once.

“To keep their story on-track when engaging with multiple people, they use the same profile.

Police often see the same photo used over and over again, with a different generic name, pedalling a similar story about their fraudulent background.:

An example of a doctored driver's license. Photo / NZ Police
An example of a doctored driver’s license. Photo / NZ Police

The same image has been seen over and over, doctored on to a fake New Zealand driver’s licence.

Allan says the scams often have common red flags to watch out for – they will frequently claim to be working somewhere hard to contact, such as an…

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