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Police issue warning after scam targets locals

Police are encouraging the community to stay vigilant on Facebook after several residents were targeted by a recent scam.

In the last fortnight, Maryborough Police have received at least three reports of attempted scams where the victim is contacted on Facebook and asked to send intimate images of themselves.

Maryborough Police Leading Senior Constable David Scott said upon receipt of any private images, the scammer uses them to blackmail the victim.

“There’s been a Facebook scam going around with a person who has been befriending people in the area,” he said.

“Their Facebook page says they’re located at Aireys Inlet and they’ve been befriending males, getting them to send some intimate images and is then blackmailing them.

“This person is saying that if you pay them money, they won’t forward the images you sent and upon receiving any payment, reports are that this person is forwarding them anyway.”

Led Sen Con Scott said he’s aware of three residents who have been targeted by the scam and encouraged community members not to send intimate images of themselves on social media.

“Please don’t send intimate images over Facebook and if this person does try and contact you, please block them immediately,” he said.

“We believe this individual has added someone local on Facebook and has then gone through their friends list adding others.

“There are three incidents that I’m aware of and it is a concern, particularly when at least one of the victims has paid money.”

According to Scamwatch, Australians have lost more than $23 million to dating and romance type scams already this year, with July alone seeing $3.9 million lost.

Scamwatch states any of the following are warning signs you may be the target of a scam:

• You meet someone online and after just a few contacts they profess strong feelings for you and ask to chat with you privately. If you met on a dating site they will try and move you away from the site and communicate via chat or email.

• Their profile on the internet dating website or their Facebook page is not consistent with what they tell you. For example, their profile picture looks different to their description of themselves, or they say they are university educated but their English is poor.

• After gaining your trust — often waiting weeks, months or even years — they tell you an elaborate story and ask for money, gifts or your bank account/credit card details.

• Their messages are often poorly written, vague and escalate quickly from introduction to love.

If you believe you have been scammed, report it to the website, app or social media site the scammer first approached you on and if you believe they have your bank details, contact your bank immediately.

For more information, visit scamwatch.gov.au.