It starts with some innocent online flirting and banter but could end with you having your account drained. Read on to learn more about online dating scammers and the red flags to look out for to keep yourself safe.

What are internet dating scams?

Online dating scammers may approach you in a number of ways – chat rooms, social networking sites, unsolicited emails or dating websites – all the same ways that genuine lonely hearts will approach you.

They'll build up a relationship of trust with you, then eventually ask for some type of financial help. Usually, they'll ask you to send money to pay for airfares for them to visit you or to help them out of a sticky situation while they’re travelling. They can also send you a fraudulent international cheque and ask you to cash it and send the money back to them. If you do this and the cheque dishonours, you'll be liable to pay for it.

You should be wary of pursuing online romantic relationships, where you could fall into a trap of becoming a money mule. The scammer may ask you for your bank account details so you can receive a large amount of funds into your account, or move money through your account in return for a profit. This is money laundering and it can have severe consequences for you.

Tips to avoid internet dating scams

  • Use extreme caution when asked to send money to someone you've met online.
  • Stop communication with someone you met online or who contacted you out of the blue if they ask you to open a new bank account or use an existing one to receive funds.
  • Be wary if they only give you a post office address and a phone number which they never answer and doesn't have voicemail.
  • Look for discrepancies with the information they're telling you.

Helpful resources

What to do if you've been scammed

Anyone can fall for an online scam. If you suspect that you've been scammed, get in touch with us as soon as possible.

Get in touch

Call us on 0800 113 355 (or +64 4 473 1133 from overseas) if you think you've been scammed.

Report suspicious activity

If you think you’ve been sent an email that doesn’t look like it’s from us, forward it to suspicious.email@kiwibank.co.nz.