March 4, 2021 by
It’s been a little over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began; a year of fear, loneliness, and isolation for a great many older adults. Physical distancing has eliminated the ability to offer the comfort and warmth of a hug and even an in-person smile in many cases. Yet humans are social creatures, and this diminished socialization has many seniors turning online for connection – such as dating websites, which open them up to scams targeting seniors.
While this might appear innocent or perhaps even beneficial, there are hidden dangers for the elderly specifically, known as sweetheart scammers. Here’s what to watch out for to keep the seniors in your life safe:
- Flattery that turns into requests for money. Financial gain is the sweetheart scammer’s primary objective. The scammer will employ various techniques to achieve that end goal, most notably, targeting weak spots like loneliness. Praising, flattering, and professing everlasting love and affection for an older adult the scammer has not met often moves into a request for funds.
- Overwhelming attention. The scammer will focus in on a senior’s loneliness and vulnerability, lavishing continual attention. Take note of your loved one to evaluate exactly how much time is being spent on texts and conversations with the person. You will also want to notice if the individual has been declaring his/her love for the senior, particularly early in the relationship. Scammers move fast to get to their end goal as soon as possible.
- No online presence. A quick Google search for the senior’s new love interest will help you assess if the individual is legitimate. In the event your search results in no information whatsoever in regards to the person, it should instantly raise a red flag. You can also run a background check to find out any criminal convictions, marriage/divorce certificates, as well as other public records.
- A fake photo. Google has a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) that enables a person to determine if the individual’s profile picture is really a stock photo or stolen from another person.
You may also wish to give some thought to logging in to your loved one’s email account to check activity and help your senior loved one discern between actual relationships and scammers.
First and foremost, talk with the senior about the prevalence of online sweetheart scams. Tune in to your loved one’s description of his or her new love interest and how the relationship is developing. Point out any warning signs and help the senior be aware of the danger she or he might be facing.
At Home Independent Living is here to help with safe, trusted caregivers to provide seniors with the warm and friendly companionship that alleviates loneliness, isolation, and desperation. Reach out to us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) for a no-cost in-home consultation for additional information.