Online dating has become increasingly popular, even among older adults. However, seniors are at somewhat higher risk for being targeted for scams, possibly because they are at times more isolated and may have higher financial means. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, people lost $82 million in “romance scams” in the last six months of 2014 alone. So while there are many advantages to using an online platform to meet people, it is important to be careful and to know what warning signs to look for to avoid becoming a victim.
Here are some indicators that you could be dealing with a scammer:
- Exceptionally bad grammar and odd phrasing may indicate that the person is not a native speaker and may be using online translation services to communicate with you.
- Quickly wanting to communicate via email or text rather than on the dating site may be an attempt to get around the privacy restrictions on the site.
- Avoiding ever meeting in person is another red flag; if any attempt to meet is met with an excuse or the person claims that he or she is always travelling, then the intention may not be to steal your heart, but rather to steal your money.
- If the person is very quick to profess to love you and to want to move the ‘relationship’ along quickly, even though he or she has never met you, this can be a big warning sign. The scammer may have created an entire false identity, complete with fake photos taken from the internet. For potential female victims, they often claim to be older, distinguished gentlemen; for males, they often claim to be younger women.
- Shortly after proclaiming their love, scammers will then claim that they are facing some financial crisis and that ‘you are the only one who can help.’ If the request is repeated after being turned down, it’s likely time to move on.
While many people can end up in very successful relationships that result from online dating, it is important to protect yourself and be careful. When entering into a relationship with someone, check them out online. Run searches on their names and the photos they posted. If the photo search leads to a modeling site, it is likely a fake. Also, check out their social media pages (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and see if what they post on them matches what they have told you about themselves. These tips can help keep you from getting taken advantage of, no matter your age.
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