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When we speak to victims they say they've been connected, prolifically in the initial stages, using extremely validating language and we are all suckers for it," she said."Being told how much they are loved, how wonderful they are …they use that sort of validating language and the prolific nature of it, regular text messages not just through the day, but through the night."The victim is then expecting those validating messages to come through.You may have heard the term "catfished," a word used when someone gets scammed from someone on an online dating site pretending to be someone they're not.It means they've been had, lied to, and maybe even grossly misled to give their own money to someone who pretended to be in need. According to, "Just over a year ago, the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—had plead guilty to conning tens of millions of dollars from Americans via online dating sites." How does it happen?
I think it is a very primal need, it is a very human thing."Ms Malet-Warden said there was suggestion scammers were being trained by psychologists to help them with scripting."I think anyone with the silver tongue, anyone who has the ability to be a smooth operator, it doesn't take that much," she said.
Ms Malet-Warden said although there was a perception that scam victims were more vulnerable than the average person, everyone was seeking a sense of connection.
"I think there is a primal need, so I don't think we can box the victim into this idea that they are sad, lonely or naive," she said."We all want support.
A senior Sunshine Coast police detective called it "blatant stupidity" for a 60-year-old woman from Nambour to become involved in a million online love scam.
But a counsellor who works with such victims on a daily basis said the scenario was "way more complex".
Ms Malet-Warden said studies suggested people were more trusting with online relationships than they would be face-to face.