O'Donnell Kerr Financial Planners
  • 09 February, 2016

Falling in love with Allan

My co-blogger Tealey has been known to climb up on his soapbox from time to time and have a bit of a rant. Now it’s my turn, and it’s all about Allan…

“Who is Allan?” you may ask. Allan McCarty is a Scottish interior designer who is now living in Australia. Judging by his Facebook photos he is also a very well-dressed and good looking man.

But everything you see online may not be as it appears.

You see – Allan is a fake, and he has managed to scam $300,000 out of a Western Australian woman after befriending her on Facebook and convincing her that they were in love.

While the photos (of someone else) are real – ‘Allan’ is nothing more than the product of the fertile imagination of a Nigerian internet scammer.

This, sadly, is the latest in what seems to be a never-ending stream of online romances that have gone terribly wrong.

This particular matter is currently being investigated by the WA Consumer Protection Agency, but the likelihood of the victim of this crime seeing her money again is remote.

In fact – in WA alone more than $37,000,000 has been lost to overseas criminals who are offering the hope of romance, or investment opportunities, since 2011.

Overseas criminals have become extremely sophisticated at creating effective personas designed to defraud innocent Australians looking for love, or the next best investment opportunity.

Internet fraud has become an art form in its own right. Today – modern internet scams are so convincing in their fabrication that it would be extremely difficult to tell a fraud from the real thing.

I believe the solution to this problem is education. We need to educate our friends, family, clients, and the most vulnerable members of our society, that all we see is not necessarily true.

Internet-based fraud is a very easy way for unscrupulous people to make a huge amount of money from unsuspecting people.

So what steps should we be taking to avoid being caught in a situation like the one above?

  • Ensure your Facebook privacy settings are at the highest security level – In Allan’s case the photographs used on his Facebook page were stolen from another individual’s Facebook account – which had low-security settings.
  • Only accept social media ‘friend invitations’ from people you actually know – It’s great to be popular and to have hundreds of friends on Facebook, or other social media platforms, but allowing individuals you don’t know personally to be privy to your personal information can put you at risk.
  • Don’t share too much personal information – The information you post on Facebook and other social media sites can be wonderful fodder for criminals looking to perpetrate identity theft. For example, by posting about your current extended overseas holiday you might just be providing enough information to alert potential criminals that you are away from home, and it might be an opportune time for a little uninterrupted burglary.
  • Be skeptical of any offers of romance, or investments, initiated by people you don’t know – While we are always on the lookout for ‘the next big thing’ that will reap happiness and joy in our lives, rarely will that joy and happiness be delivered from someone we have never met. Be cautious.
  • Successful internet fraud is a numbers game – The perpetrators of these scams know that sooner or later they will strike pay dirt. A key tactic used by criminals is to maximise the number of contacts they make. For those looking for romance online – there are legitimate dating websites that will offer a superior level of security and protection of your personal information.

Remember – if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Time to give the soapbox back to Tealey!

The Realise Your Dream blogs are written by Peter Kelly and Mark Teale. More information about the authors can be found here

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