Romance Scams Aren’t Just for Young’uns: They Affect Seniors, Too

With so many people looking for love via online apps, you’ve probably heard about someone who found an attractive person via an app, only to meet in person and realize the picture of that person was from 20 years ago. It’s easy to feel duped in that situation, and it sounds innocent enough (although annoying). However, it’s not as serious as the financial scams some seniors experience as they look for romance. Financial scams targeting seniors—including romance-related scams—rack up nearly $3 billion a year, according to an article from CNBC. Here are just a few examples of how scammers prey upon seniors:

  • A senior on a dating app or website (12% of those aged 55 to 64 use a dating app or website, CNBC reports) begins to chat with someone. They build up trust, and then the scammer starts to ask for money for hospital bills, visas, hotel expenses, or medical emergencies.
  • A Japanese woman sent $200,000 to a man who she thought was a U.S. Army captain stationed in Syria. They had become digital pen pals, and she sent the money over a 10-month period. As it turned out, the man was part of an international scam operated by two Nigerian men in Los Angeles. Later, a total of 80 people, mostly from Nigeria, were charged by U.S. prosecutors as part of a conspiracy that defrauded more than $6 million. Many of the targets were elderly women.
  • A 76-year-old woman happened to check out a dating website after losing her husband 17 years before. She quickly met a man from Virginia whom she liked, and they exchanged emails and phone calls. However, they never met in person. He claimed one day he was stuck in Africa, had become ill, and needed a kidney transplant. Over time, she gave him money to the tune of $300,000.

If you think a senior loved one you care for could be vulnerable to the thrill of romance—and possible scammers—make sure to share with them the tips below to keep their eyes open.

  1. Encourage them to verify photos online by using the Google “search by image” feature online. If you find that person’s photo online with a different name, it could be because a scammer stole it, according to AARP.
  2. Be wary of sudden high praise. Everyone likes to feel special, but if an online suitor is all about the compliments and is focused on romance too quickly, there could be an ulterior motive behind it. Go slow to get a better feel for things.
  3. Don’t give money or gift cards to someone you’ve only met online. 
  4. As soon as you suspect someone is a scammer, stop reaching out to them. Avoid contact.
  5. If you find a scammer through a dating website or app, make sure to let the company operating the site know.

Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Care Management

At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect and preserve our client’s independence and dignity through careful and thoughtful financial and care management. As our clients’ age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at www.secureaging.com.

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