Jessica and Martin struck up a close relationship and exchanged regular emails and many phone calls.Martin came across as sensitive and caring and often listened to her problems.Ms Rickard said the ACCC did not have the resources to police the huge number of incidents being reported to them each year and catching just one scammer was incredibly difficult."It is incredibly resource-intensive and requires cooperation with overseas agencies to catch just one person," she said."In terms of the amount of romance scams out there, catching one would have very little impact."Ms Rickard said reporting scams to Scamwatch helped the organisation form an understanding of the size of the problem, devote resources to the issue and develop educational campaigns to warn the public.After several months Jessica felt that she could tell Martin anything and Martin confessed his love for her.Soon afterwards, Jessica received an email from Martin claiming that he had been mugged and lost his wallet.
They are very persistent," she said."These scams have huge benefits for the scammers — real wealth — so they put an awful lot of time into grooming and deceiving people who believe they have found the love of their life."In 2016, more than 4,000 reports were made to Scamwatch regarding dating and romance scams.
"When I went back to the main screen everything was black, and it was normally blue, and there was writing behind all the icons and it said 'you have been held to ransom, you need to pay Bitcoins that are 5 US dollars and we will restore all your files, and that was it really."The computer held business files and precious photos of Mrs Testa's late husband.
After trying to get help from a local IT business, the computer was still locked.
Unusually for someone her age, Aleksandra had no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.
In fact, there were no online traces of her at all.