Consumer protection agencies around the nation are urging Australians to be careful when looking for love online, warning that one false move could leave consumers with both a broken heart and an empty wallet.
Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Dini Soulio said that, in 2019, Australians lost more than $28 million to romance scammers.
"Many people find love and happiness on the internet, but people need to be aware that the person they're talking to online may not be who they claim to be," he said.
"Scammers will often seek to exploit people using online dating sites or apps, spending months building up trust before asking their victim for money.
"The best advice we can offer is to be especially cautious, and don't send money to someone you've never met in person.
"You simply just don't know who you're giving money to, and whether you're just lining the pockets of a scammer."
Mr Soulio said there were a number of steps people could take to protect themselves against scammers.
"Often these people will use stock images, or images they've taken from someone else's social media," he said.
"Before you start to engage with someone online, do some checks - do a google image search or a TinEye reverse image search to check if their profile is legitimate.
"Always be wary if someone tries to move communications away from the dating website or app and onto another platform such as email, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Viber.
"If they ask for money, but won't meet you in person, that's a big red flag - never give money to someone if you haven't met them in person."
Mr Soulio said that if someone is concerned they have already given their bank account details to a scammer, they should immediately contact their bank or financial institution to stop any further losses.
For more information about romance scams, visit the Scamwatch website.