Romance Scams are on the rise. When we hear the word “scam” many of us think it will never happen to us ? But, did you know that one of the biggest fraud acts on the rise for those over the age of 50 is “romance scams”? There are a couple of reasons for this. The main one, is that most of the time, those in the over 50 age bracket are usually close to reaching the empty nesters status. They have worked many years and tend to have more of a disposable income than those who are younger.
With people living healthier longer lives, more people are finding themselves without a significant other. Those left alone often long for connection and relationships. They want to find someone they can talk to for companionship and never dream there are romance scams. The result is millions are turning to online dating apps or social platforms to meet others. A romance scam usually begins with a social media contact who has created a fake profile. They connect with their targets and have conversations, working to gain trust of the target. The two begin to have regular conversations and begin to learn more about one another. And eventually there is a request for money.
Here is how a romance scam works. You post your profile on a dating network and you wait. The next thing you know, the perfect match pops up. This person is everything you had NEVER thought you would find. The problem is this match lives so far from you that there is hardly any way you could ever see them. They may even tell you they work abroad or live in another state. But they keep the connection with you going by texts, phone calls or emails.
It is important to know some of the signs of the way scammers work: 1) they profess their love quickly, 2) they want to lure you off of the dating site so they can have private conversations that eventually asking for money, 3) they claim to need money for emergencies ex. hospital bills or travels or 3) they plan to visit you but can’t because of an emergency.
As we mature, we become a target group for these type of romance scams, as well as various other types of scams. Romance scams reached a record $304 million in losses reported to the FTC in 2020. If you are like me, we see ourselves as someone who will not mentally age and will work to be on the top of our cognitive game. We think if someone tried to scam us that we would know it. However, working in the senior care industry, I see it every day. Our cognitive abilities do change. So what can we do if we suspect the person we are talking to may be a romance scam?
- Stop communicating with the person immediately!
- Talk to someone you trust, and pay attention if your friends or family say they’re concerned about your new love interest. (Secret: This is probably the most difficult one to accept.)
- Do a search for the type of job the person has to see if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “US Army scammer.”
- Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up – those are signs of a scam.
Another subject to address is that of our aging parents who may be in a romantic scam. It can be difficult for adult children when one of our parents loses their spouse and then finds another companion. We are emotionally connected and we may not want the remaining parent to find anyone so we immediately begin to say the parent is being scammed. As adult children, we must look at the big picture. Find out where your parent met this companion. Ask questions, like why there is not a significant other in their life. If getting answers to these questions is not a threat the new person will be happy to answer your questions. They will see you are asking out of love for your parent and your parent will also see this.
On the other hand, if they try to convince your parent that you are being nosey and they appear to be threatened, they may be in a romantic scam.
As a mature adult looking for relationship possibilities, be smart. Listen to the advice of those that love you. As an adult child of a parent who may be in this type of relationship, keep open communications.
If you or someone you know is being scammed and have more questions, there are available resources to assist if you have questions.