It’s been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began; a year of fear, isolation, and loneliness for a great many older adults. Physical distancing has eliminated the opportunity for 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 seniors turning their attention to online sources for connection – such as dating websites. While this might seem innocent and even beneficial, there can be unknown dangers for older adults specifically, such as the sweetheart senior scam. Here’s what to look for to help keep the seniors you love safe:
- Flattery that turns into requests for financial help. Financial gain is typically the only objective of a sweetheart scam. The scammer will employ an assortment of strategies to accomplish this end goal, such as focusing on weak spots like loneliness. Praising, flattering, and professing undying love and affection for a senior the scammer has never met often progresses into a request for funds.
- Overwhelming attention. The scammer will hone in on a senior’s loneliness and vulnerability, lavishing continual attention. Pay attention to your senior loved one to determine how much time is being spent on conversations and texts with the individual in question. You will also want to note if the person has been declaring his or her love for the older adult, particularly at the start of the relationship. Scammers move rapidly to get to their end goal in the shortest time possible.
- No online presence. A quick Google search for the senior’s new love interest makes it possible to determine if the individual is real. If the search yields no information of any kind in regards to the person, this should immediately raise a red flag. You can also run a background check to discover any criminal convictions, marriage or divorce certificates, or any other public information.
- A fake photo. Google has a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) that enables you to determine if the individual’s profile picture is actually a stock photo or stolen from someone else.
You might also want to consider logging in to your loved one’s email account to check activity and help your senior loved one discern between an actual relationship and a sweetheart scam.
Most of all, talk to the senior about the prevalence of online scams. Listen to your loved one’s description of his or her new love interest and how the relationship is progressing. Point out any warning signs and help the senior understand the danger she or he might be facing.
CareWorks Health Services is here to assist with safe, trusted caregivers who provide seniors with the warm and friendly companionship that alleviates isolation, loneliness, and desperation. We offer a range of home care services, including chronic disease care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and special needs care. Reach out to us online or give us a call at (949) 859-4700 for a free in-home assessment to find out more about our home care services in Huntington Beach and the surrounding areas.