It’s been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began; a year of fear, loneliness, and isolation for many seniors. Physical distancing has eliminated the ability to provide the warmth and comfort of a hug and even an in-person smile in many cases. Yet humans are social creatures, and this diminished socialization has numerous lonely seniors turning their attention to online sources for connection – such as dating websites.
Even though this might sound harmless or even beneficial, there are unknown dangers for seniors specifically, known as sweetheart scammers. Here’s what to watch for to help keep the seniors you love safe:
- Flattery that turns into requests for help with money. Financial gain is the sweetheart scammer’s primary objective. The scammer will employ a plethora of techniques to achieve that end goal, most notably, focusing on weak spots like loneliness. Praising, flattering, and professing undying love and affection for a person the scammer has not met often moves into a request for funds.
- Overwhelming attention. The scammer will hone in on lonely seniors with increased vulnerability, lavishing relentless attention. Take note of your loved one to evaluate exactly how much time is being spent on texts and conversations with the individual. You’ll also want to notice if the individual is expressing his/her love for the older adult, especially at the start of the relationship. Scammers move quickly to get to their end goal in the shortest time possible.
- No online presence. A quick Google search for the older adult’s new love interest makes it possible to determine whether the person is legitimate. If, for example, your search result produces no information about the individual, it should 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 offers a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) that enables you to determine if the person’s profile picture is actually a stock photo or stolen from somebody else.
If you determine there is reason to be on high alert, you might even consider logging in to your loved one’s email account to check activity and help your senior loved one discern between actual relationships and scammers.
Most of all, speak with your senior loved one about the prevalence of online sweetheart scams. Listen to your loved one’s description of his or her new love interest and exactly how the relationship is developing. Point out any warning signs and help your loved one understand the danger he or she might be facing.
Seniorcorp is standing by to assist by providing safe, trusted caregivers to help seniors with cheerful companionship that alleviates loneliness, isolation, and depression. Highly trained professionals are available to provide a variety of in-home senior services in Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas, according to the level of care and schedule that meets your family’s individual needs. Contact us today at 757-640-0557 to schedule a free, in-home consultation to learn more.