We all could use a little more love, especially with the state of the world as it is today. However, if a new offer for love online seems too good to be true, then you’re probably right. Don’t let your heart go wild just yet, because romance scams are a multimillion dollar business.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission reported $304 million in losses due to romance scams in 2020, up almost 50% compared to 2019. All that time in isolation may have made people more lonely and willing to trust a friendly stranger online.
Plus, the FTC, AARP, and the Better Business Bureau all have reported yet another rise in romance scams in the first half of 2021 compared to the first half of 2020, according to an article from Comparitech.
Older adults are more vulnerable to romance scams due to more isolation and a desire to connect with others.
There are a few tactics that romance scammers use online to try and win your heart and then go in for the money:
- They will say they are living abroad in the military or with an international organization.
- They fall for you pretty hard, pretty quickly, sometimes even without talking to you on the phone or doing a video call.
- Once they think you’re hooked, they’ll ask for money for a variety of reasons, such as a plane ticket to come see you, for a surgery or other medical care, or for immigration documents.
- They may ask you to wire them money or send them gift cards.
Keeping Yourself Safe When Dating Online
There’s nothing wrong with looking for love online. After all, that seems to be much more common nowadays than meeting someone in person. However, you have to keep your guard up. Here are a few tips to protect yourself from a potential romance scam.
- Watch out for someone who has a profile on a site and then quickly removes their profile after they start to talk to you. Removing profiles quickly can make it harder for you to keep track of their personal information, such as where they live and what they look like.
- Do a reverse-image search if someone’s picture seems too perfect. It’s quite possible they aren’t who they say there are and that they have stolen another person’s image. Here are instructions on how to do a reverse-image search on your phone.
- Listen to your gut. If something seems off, it probably is. Some telltale signs that may lead to a gut feeling of something wrong include messages with grammatical and spelling errors or someone who asks a lot of questions about you but does not say a lot about themselves.
- Beware of sending racy photos. Some scammers will ask for racy photos and then will use them to blackmail you into sending them money, with the threat that they will send the photo to others if you don’t.
- Never send money, gift cards, or sensitive personal information to someone online who you don’t know well.
- Stop communication if you suspect someone is a scammer. Talk to a friend about the situation. Google the basics of what happened to you to see if others have had similar romance scams before (many scammers use the same stories to hook people in). If you still suspect that you’ve been scammed, you can report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.FTC.gov.
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 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.