Even on the annual day of love, hopeless romantics must proceed with caution when pursuing their online Valentines.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is warning Queenslanders to not be lead astray by scammers, particularly on a day of such emotional vulnerability.

“Emotionally charged times of the year are a magnet for scammers, so make sure your guard is up for any Valentine’s Day approaches,” says OFT Queensland Executive Director Brian Bauer.

Scammers will go to great lengths to create a false sense of trust and security by investing time into the relationship.

“Once your defences are down, scammers will ask for your help with some kind of personal crisis like a large debt, a sick or dying family member or a bad business decision,” Mr Bauer said.

“After you’ve sent them your money, they will fabricate further stories to steal more or simply disappear.

“Before giving your heart and your money away – stop and ask yourself, ‘Do I really know who I’m dealing with?”

In order to avoid any potential scams, protect yourself by following these tips:

  • Once you have been asked for money by somebody you met online, consider the high probability that it is a scam and approach it accordingly. Remove any emotion from the situation, regardless of how persistent or convincing they may seem.
  • Don’t ever send money to somebody that you haven’t met in person without consulting advice from a friend or relative.
  • Never provide your personal financial information online (bank details, credit card details).
  • Be cautious with the information that you share online. With your information and photos, scammers can create fake identities to scam you with.
  • If you agree to meet in person, make sure you notify your friends and family of the information, just in case. For any overseas travel, register with smarttraveller.gov.au.

Have you been the victim of an online dating scam? Tell us your story.