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Looking For Romance? Help Aging Parents Avoid Thieves

Valentines Day brings up the subject of romance and finding a partner for those who are alone. Many turn to social media, dating apps, and any online resource they can find. Clever scammers know that there are endless opportunities for them to find and fleece naive older adults. Those who are most trusting of others are perfect victims. If your aging parent is one of them who believes that generally, people are good and no one is going to trick them, it’s time to help by warning aging parents about this issue.

Federal Trade Commission Warnings

The FTC tracks scams and fraud across our country. It regularly publishes information about ripoffs and how they happen. Their helpful warnings about romance scams are significant. According to their latest statistics, romance scammers stole over a billion dollars from people last year. As we often point out here, older adults, one who might be your own aging parent, are certainly among them. We believe it’s protective for family to give your aging parent a heads-up about when to be suspicious as they seek companionship or romance online.

The FTC warning are these;

  • “Be cautious when you get a surprise direct message or friend request on social media. Try to limit who can see your posts and information by setting some restrictions on your privacy settings.
  • Don’t send money to an online love interest or anyone who demands payment with cryptocurrency, gift cards, wire transfers, or a payment app. Only scammers tell you to pay those ways.
  • Learn the signs of an investment scam, like when someone claims they have a secret method to make money. Visit for more advice on investing and avoiding fraud.”

It is particularly important to note whether your aging parent is one who feels insecure about their finances, or worried about running out of money. It may be rational or not, but it gives thieves a leverage point: they can probe that worry and then talk about investing in a “guaranteed” or “safe” new investment they know about. This pitch, of course follows, a rush of flattering comments, proclaiming they are a perfect love match for the target, and urging the older person to stop looking for any other partner. They claim to be exactly what the elder has been seeking online.

The Pattern Scammers Use

They may send a friend request, direct message or other approach to see if the intended victim will respond. When the target responds, they flood him or her with attention every day or sometimes twice a day. For any lonely person, this is attractive. Who doesn’t like flattering attention? Scammers are very practiced and trained in how to trap their targets into thinking they are loved by this stranger. Eventually they get a around to the pitch: it’s an emergency, I need money, or I have this fabulous way to make money, etc. They cleverly prey on people’s emotional vulnerability.

What if the new romantic pursuer of your loved one urges them to invest in something? The Securities and Exchange Commission offers informative bulletins and reports to help anyone who is considering an investment to figure out if it’s legitimate. Your aging parents may not be interested in the information, but families can be helpful in checking it out and giving cautions to their aging loved ones. If your aging parent claims to have found the love of their life online and you learn that they are “excited” about a wonderful investment their new-found romantic interest has told them about, consider it a red flag.

The Takeaways:

  1. Valentines Day reminds those who want companionship or romance that they don’t have it yet and they may seek it online. That has risks.
  2. Many older adults are too trusting. They may be swayed by the flattering attention from a stranger they met online. When that person asks for money, it is a scam. Warn your loved ones to be suspicious.
  3. Government resources (FTC, SEC) try to stop fake romance-driven financial abuse with solid published advice on their sites. Check it out yourself or encourage your aging parents to use it. In your family, no one has to become a victim if you are monitoring what aging loved ones are doing online.

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