A gay man has warned people who date online to be wary of con artists after he was targeted by a scammer who contacted him through Gaydar.
Michael (not his real name), in his early 40s was contacted in late September by a man calling himself Stephen Dare.
Michael thought Stephen’s photos were pretty cute so after a few messages he gave out his email address.
“He said that he was a young gay guy who was living in Ireland but was originally from America and was very lonely because his parents had died,” Michael told the Star Observer.
“My Gaydar profile was all about wanting a long term relationship, which I guess was the draw card for him.
“He drew me in with the suggestion that it would be nice to come out to Australia. I said that sounded great.
“At that point he started talking about airfares. I told him that I couldn’t afford to fly him out but I’d be happy for him to stay with me.
“Things back and forth for a while until I got an email where he suddenly said he’s in Africa doing ‘research’- that’s when it all started going a bit weird.”
The Sydney resident asked what this research was but didn’t get an answer and Stephen soon claimed to be stuck in Africa and in need of help.
“He claimed that for some reason his credit card wouldn’t work in Africa, and asked if I could loan him some money until he could reach a bank outside of Africa.
“I wrote back saying that if his card wasn’t working there he could give me his card details and I could get the money out for him from here so there would be no need for a loan. It was obvious that he knew I was into him from this point.”
When Michael was told by a flatmate that a friend had lost thousands of dollars in a similar situation he decided to contact the Star Observer.
Michael says Stephen, who he now believes was in Africa all along, sent him more than 20 long emails during the exchange and that people should be aware of the amount of time and effort that scammers will take in trying to reel in their victims.
The ACCC maintains a Scamwatch website with tips on avoiding getting scammed and where victims can make reports.
They recommend contacting your financial institution as soon as possible after realising you’ve become a victim to block access or suspend your account. In some cases transactions may be reversed and money returned.