Looking for love online is more popular than ever for singles of any age. However, that comes some emotional and financial costs for some vulnerable older adults. In fact, these scams bilked adults age 60 and over out of $139 million in 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission. That compared to $84 million the previous year.
Although scams can vary, here’s one example scenario that includes many of the elements associated with romance scams and older adults:
- An older person joins an online dating site and forms a connection with someone who says that they live overseas. The romance blossoms very quickly. That person will chat but never meet in person or do a video call. They may or may not agree to talk on the phone (remember that it’s possible to use a voice changer). Eventually, that person starts to ask for money or gift cards to go toward an emergency, immigration paperwork, or for funds to come visit. They will often ask for this money, gift cards, or even cryptocurrency more than once.
Unfortunately, the loss may be more than just their pride or a small sum of money. There are reports of some people losing their life savings to support their “loved one,” according to a New York Times article.
7 Ways to Help the Older Adult in Your Life Date Safely
If the older adult in your life is using dating websites for companionship, encourage them to follow these tips to avoid becoming the victim of a romance scam:
Be wary of pictures a person uses. This is an easy way to “catfish,” or fool, someone. Help the older adult in your life do a reverse image search so they can confirm that an image/images weren’t stolen from someone else.
Keep your personal information to yourself. Tell your loved one to not reveal certain personal information like your address, financial status, or the full names of your children.
Check information online. Look up the person online, and ask about their social media accounts. Be skeptical if there’s no other information available about the person online beyond what they present on the dating site.
Do not offer to give money or gift cards to someone you’ve met online. As tempting as it may be to do this, this just opens up a dangerous road.
Be inquisitive. Tell your loved one to ask questions about the person they’ve met online. Don’t rush, and be skeptical if the new friend seems to fall for your loved one very quickly. As flattering as that might be, it also is a way to get someone to help them out.
Listen to your gut. You know the phrase—if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. It may be sad to realize that someone online isn’t how they say they are, but your loved one will save themselves a lot of headaches in the long run.
Let a dating app know if someone is suspicious or has made an attempt to ask for money. You should also let them know if your loved one has already given money to someone online because they requested it. The Federal Trade Commission also is a good source of information and a good place to notify if you’re the victim of a romance scam.
As disheartening as a romance scam may be, know that you aren’t alone if you’ve become a victim. Many others have been in your position. By speaking up and making others aware of your experience, you can help reduce the risk of more scams in the future.
Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Financial 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.