March 4, 2021
It’s been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started; a year of fear, loneliness, and isolation for many older adults. Physical distancing has taken away the ability to offer the warmth and comfort of a hug and even an in-person smile in many cases. Yet humans are social creatures, and this lack of socialization has many lonely seniors turning their attention to online sources for connection – such as dating websites.
While this might seem innocent and maybe even beneficial, there can be hidden dangers for older adults specifically, known as sweetheart scammers. Here is what to look for in order to keep the seniors you love safe:
- Flattery that turns financial. Financial gain is the sweetheart scammer’s only goal. The scammer will use an assortment of tactics to achieve that end goal, including targeting weak spots like loneliness. Praising, flattering, and professing undying love and affection for an older adult the scammer hasn’t ever met often moves into a request for money.
- Overwhelming attention. The scammer will hone in on an older adult’s loneliness and vulnerability, lavishing continual attention. Pay attention to your senior loved one to gauge how much time is being spent on conversations and texts with the individual. You’ll also want to note if the individual has been declaring his/her love for the older adult, particularly early in the relationship. Scammers move rapidly to get to their end goal as fast as possible.
- No online presence. A simple Google search for the senior’s new love interest makes it possible to assess if the person is real. If the search results in no information whatsoever in regards to the person, it should immediately raise a red flag. You can also run a background check to uncover any criminal convictions, marriage/divorce certificates, as well as other public information.
- A fake photo. Google provides a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) which allows a person to assess if the individual’s profile picture is actually a stock photo or stolen from another individual.
You may also want to take into consideration logging in to your loved one’s email account to check activity and help your senior loved one discern between actual relationships and scammers.
Above all, speak with your senior loved one about the frequency of online sweetheart scams. Pay attention to your loved one’s description of his/her new love interest and how the relationship is progressing. Point out any warning signs and help your loved one recognize the danger he or she could possibly be facing.
As professional providers of St. Louis senior home care, Continuum is here to help with trusted, safe caregivers to provide older adults with the pleasant companionship that alleviates isolation, loneliness, and desperation. Call us for a free in-home assessment or to learn more about our service area