Tips You Can Use to Keep Seniors Safe from Sweetheart Scams
Are you familiar with romance scams? Have you ever heard of a romance scam called “Lonely Heart”? These scams often occur when scammers are attempting to financially exploit vulnerable people. There are many ways this scam can be accomplished, including by phone or online. The scammer earns the trust of the vulnerable senior through romantic manipulation and emotional deceit. Unfortunately, seniors are especially vulnerable to lonely heart frauds due to higher incidence of loneliness and social isolation.
Sadly, Valentine’s Day gives online criminals an even better opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable Florida seniors. We want everyone, both seniors and their families, to be proactive in recognizing this scam and have included a few tips in this month’s newsletter.
Everyone knows the saying, if it’s too good to be true it probably is. Romance scammers typically use fake images of themselves and pretend to be someone they are not in reality. Very shortly after meeting their victim online, the scammer will profess a strong attraction or deep seated love for the victim, and then attempt to exploit the situation. Keep yourself safe and do not fall for anything they say or do!
Once scammers feel they have gained the trust of their victims, they will often move quickly to convince their victims to communicate in private forums. These private forums like email, messenger apps, or even cell phones make it easier to isolate their victims from others.
Criminals might suggest romantic vacations or a passionate future together but will tell the victim they cannot afford it. This is to tug at the hearts of vulnerable Florida seniors. Scammers may even say they have never felt this way about someone before. Most of us are very aware that this is not how real life relationships work. Be sure to always use common sense.
Scammers can be very subtle in their manipulation of their victims. Little by little, by giving into unusual requests, you will find yourself being led down a path of providing personal and financial information that you would never have offered at the beginning of a conversation.
If you start to suspect something may be wrong, try to look for telltale signs. For example, it could be a scam if someone says they know you from your hometown yet they are wrong about things they should know. Realize that the scammer might have looked at your Facebook friends and developed a fraudulent online identity to get past your defenses. A huge red-flag is if a seemingly familiar person refuses to meet in real life.
Other internet scams involve the scammer gaining the trust of the senior and then telling their hard luck stories. Or the scammer may hint at financial troubles, such as a broken-down car or a sick relative, before moving on to ask for money. Another is the “grandparent” scam which is when a person pretends to be a grandchild who is in trouble.
If you recognize any of these signs or are unsure about someone online, cut off all communication. You do not have to do anything they say or take action. Finally, if you or someone you know has been the victim of an online financial crime, do not wait to contact the authorities for help. Further, you can contact an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights and appropriate courses of action. Remember, an experienced elder law attorney has special training to help you navigate this and any potential elder care issues you may face.
Contact our law office to learn more today. To learn more about Meloro Law and how we can help you when you need legal representation for estate planning or elder law issues, please visit our website or Facebook Page or call our office and schedule an appointment.