It’s been over one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began; a year of fear, isolation, and loneliness for a great many older adults. Physical distancing has eliminated the chance to offer the warmth and comfort of a hug or even an in-person smile in many cases. Yet humans are social creatures, and this lack of socialization has numerous seniors turning online for connection – such as dating websites. Unfortunately, this opens up a whole new world of scams targeting lonely elderly.
Even though it might sound innocent and perhaps beneficial for seniors to seek out companionship through a dating website, there are unknown dangers for the elderly specifically, known as sweetheart scammers. Here is what to watch for in order to keep the older adults you love safe:
- Flattery that turns into requests for financial help. Financial gain is the sweetheart scammer’s only purpose. The scammer will use many different strategies to accomplish this end goal, including targeting weak spots like loneliness. Praising, flattering, and professing everlasting love and affection for a senior the scammer hasn’t met often moves into a request for funds.
- Overwhelming attention. The scammer will hone in on an older adult’s loneliness and vulnerability, lavishing continual attention. Take note of how much time is being spent on conversations and texts with the person. You’ll also want to notice if the person has been declaring his or her love for the older adult, especially at the start of the relationship. Scammers move swiftly to arrive at their end goal as soon as possible.
- No online presence. A quick Google search for the senior’s new love interest makes it possible to assess if the person is real. If the search generates no information whatsoever on the individual, it should instantly raise a red flag. You can even run a background check to discover any criminal convictions, marriage/divorce certificates, or other public records.
- A fake photo. Google provides a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) that allows you to determine if the person’s profile picture is actually a stock photo or stolen from somebody else.
You may want to take into consideration logging in to your loved one’s email account to monitor activity and help the senior discern between actual relationships and senior scams.
Most importantly, talk with your senior loved one about the prevalence of online sweetheart scams. Take note of your loved one’s description of his or her new love interest and how the relationship is progressing. Point out any warning signs and help the senior be aware of the danger she or he could be facing.
Home Sweet Home In-Home Care , the Kalamazoo home care experts, is here to assist Kalamazoo and other Michigan communities with safe, trusted caregivers to provide seniors with the cheerful companionship that alleviates isolation, loneliness, and desperation. Contact us for a free in-home assessment to learn more about our customized home care services for seniors. For a full list of communities we serve, please visit our Locations page.