It’s been more than one year since the COVID-19 pandemic started; a year of fear, isolation, and loneliness for a great many older adults. Physical distancing has eliminated the ability to provide 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 to online sources of connection – such as dating websites. While this might appear harmless and perhaps beneficial, there can be hidden dangers for the elderly specifically, known as sweetheart scammers. Here is what to watch out for when it comes to protecting seniors from sweetheart scams.
- Flattery that turns into requests for money. Financial gain is the sweetheart scammer’s primary mission. The scammer will use a plethora of techniques to achieve that end goal, for instance focusing on weak spots like loneliness. Flattering, praising, and proclaiming everlasting love and affection for a senior the scammer has not met often moves into a request for funds.
- Overwhelming attention. The scammer will focus in on a senior’s vulnerability and loneliness, lavishing continual attention. Pay attention to your loved one to determine exactly how much time is being spent on conversations and texts with the person. You will also want to note if the individual has been declaring his or her love for the senior, especially at the beginning 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 older adult’s new love interest can help you determine whether the person is real. If for example, your search yields no information whatsoever on the individual, it should immediately raise a red flag. You might also run a background check to uncover any criminal convictions, marriage or divorce certificates, or other public information.
- A fake photo. Google supplies 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 some other individual.
You may wish to take into consideration logging in to your loved one’s email account to monitor activity and help your senior loved one discern between actual relationships and scammers.
Most of all, talk with the senior about the frequency of online sweetheart scams. Listen 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 be aware of the danger he or she could possibly be facing. Protecting seniors from sweetheart scams may be as simple as having an honest conversation with your loved one about your concerns.
Midnight Sun Home Care is here to assist with safe, trusted caregivers to provide seniors with the cheerful companionship that alleviates isolation, loneliness, and desperation. Contact us online or call us at (907) 677-7890 for a free of charge in-home consultation and for more information about our senior care in Anchorage, AK, and the surrounding areas.