It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started; a year of fear, isolation, and loneliness for many seniors. Physical distancing has taken away the ability to provide the comfort and warmth of an embrace or even an in-person smile in many cases. Yet humans are social creatures, and this decrease in socialization has numerous seniors turning to online sources for connection – such as dating websites. While this may appear innocent and even beneficial, there are unknown dangers for senior loved ones specifically, known as sweetheart scammers.
Here are some warning signs to look out for when it comes to protecting seniors from online scammers:
- Flattery that turns into requests for help with money. Financial gain is typically the sweetheart scammer’s sole objective. The scammer will use a variety of techniques to accomplish this end goal, for instance focusing on weak spots like loneliness. Flattering, praising, and proclaiming everlasting love and affection for a senior the scammer hasn’t ever met often progresses into a request for money.
- Overwhelming attention. The scammer will hone in on an older adult’s loneliness and vulnerability, lavishing relentless attention. Take note of your loved one to gauge how much time is being spent on texts and conversations with the person. You’ll also want to notice if the individual is expressing his or her love for the senior, particularly early in the relationship. Scammers move swiftly to arrive at their end goal as soon as possible.
- No online presence. A simple Google search for the older adult’s new love interest makes it possible to assess if the person is legitimate. If the search generates no information whatsoever on the person, it should instantly raise a red flag. You can run a background check to find out any criminal convictions, marriage/divorce certificates, as well as other public information.
- A fake photo. Google offers a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) that allows you to assess if the individual’s profile picture is in fact a stock photo or stolen from another individual.
You may even want to give some thought to logging in to your loved one’s email account to monitor activity and help the senior discern between actual relationships and scammers.
Most of all, talk to the senior about the frequency of online sweetheart scams. Listen 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 understand the danger she or he could be facing. Protecting seniors from online scammers is possible, with a little extra care and guidance.
JFS Care is here to help with safe, trusted caregivers to provide seniors with the cheerful companionship that alleviates loneliness, isolation, and desperation. Contact us online or call us at 213-383-2273 for a free of charge in-home assessment to learn more about our dementia care in Burbank, CA and nearby communities.