Thanks to the internet, getting back into the dating scene as a senior is now much easier. However, there are still some risks. Apart from potential heartbreak, you may fall victim to romance scams. This type of elder fraud preys on people’s trusting nature, allowing the scammer to charm their way into the hearts and wallets of seniors.
How does a romance scam work?
Unfortunately, many online platforms do not authenticate users, allowing con artists to create convincing fake profiles and prey on innocent people. According to the Federal Trade Commission, adults aged 55 to 64 are especially at risk. In 2020, this age group lost $139 million to romance scams.
Scammers will look into a victim’s online profile and use the interests they’ve shared on the internet to build rapport. Their research, persuasiveness and conversational skills might allow them to win your trust. Once a scammer has your full confidence, they will ask for money in some form.
Loving a scammer
When you love someone, you want to see them happy and sometimes that entails helping them with their problems. Scammers may mention financial, health, familial, or job difficulties to create a sense of urgency and make you sympathetic to them.
They will eventually ask for money, but it’s not always obvious how. Con artists may even pretend they don’t want your help or disguise it as an investment.
In addition, romantic scams can last for quite a while. Victims are sometimes unaware they are being duped since they believe they know the person well.
To avoid falling for a scammer, here are some red flags to watch out for:
- Professing love too quickly
- Using a heavily edited or unrealistic profile photo
- Refusing to video call with you or meet you in person; or
- Promising to meet but cancels at the last minute
- Making up stories about how hard their life is
- Being involved in legal trouble suddenly and having no way to pay the fees
- Encouraging you to invest in their startup without fully sharing its details
- Claiming to have connections or knowledge that will allow you to get huge returns on investment
- Asking too many personal questions
- Pressuring you into sending nude videos and photos where your face is seen
Many victims don’t realize they’ve been scammed until it’s too late. Giving love another shot is a good thing, but you must exercise caution. At most, you should probably avoid sending money to someone you’ve never met.