Rom ‑ con: "Romantic scams" target older people. 5 + 1 tips on how to avoid them
Seniors can be scammed by people they have met online.
The most common scams involving victims over the age of 60 are scams on online dating services, also known as romance scams.
In 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, are the scams with phone calls from experts who pretend to call from various services and the scams with prize draws. According to a report by the United States Federal Trade Commission, this age group reported losing nearly $ 84 million in online dating scams in 2019.
Amer Owaida, a member of the community of the international cybersecurity company ESET, explains the ways in which scammers deceive their victims on online dating platforms, what you can do to avoid them, but also how younger ones can help older relatives locate. And of course, even the younger generations have a lot to learn from these tips.
Owaida explains that the crooks will follow a series of tried and tested tricks to deceive the would-be victim. Older people are usually more confident and may not be aware of the pitfalls of online dating platforms and technology.
According to the ESET community expert, these are some of the common features that characterize romantic scams.
1. Too beautiful to be true
In online dating platforms, photos play an important role, which means that the first thing a user looks for is a photo of a potential partner. To deceive seniors looking for a new partner, scammers often use tempting photos of models or steal profile pictures of other people.
Fortunately, if you find something suspicious, there is a way to check if the photos are authentic, as you can use Google Images to reverse the photo and see if the photo is fake or stolen.
2. Shall we say it somewhere more privately?
Reliable dating platforms have systems to help expose scammers. However, in order to avoid the activation of the security measures, the swindlers will try to remove their victim from the dating platform from a very early age. For example, they will try to persuade the victim to give them their mobile number, email address or social media account, in order to communicate with them in a more personal way.
While sometimes moving to another service may seem normal, doing so at the beginning of the communication should make you think. Besides, giving your personal information to a stranger is not the smartest thing you could do.
3. I will not be able to, I will be on a trip for… conference
Usually, the desired outcome of online flirting is a personal encounter. However, in the case of scammers who usually pretend to be someone else, a meeting could expose them and jeopardize their chances of success.
This is why scammers pretend to travel to work all the time because of their professional careers. They often pretend to be military, diplomats or salesmen, because excuses like "I was transferred to another city" or "I have to travel to a conference" sound perfectly normal.
If an online acquaintance avoids meeting you, this should raise suspicions.
4. You are my soulmate!
Another thing that should immediately make you suspicious is when a new online acquaintance expresses his deep feelings from a very early age. For example, if in the first days of online dating you say "I love you" or something like "you are my soulmate", this should not thank you. Instead, it should make you shudder.
The reason why scammers move so fast is because they want to trap their victim, making him feel wanted. Once the scammers "soften" their victim with sweets and promises, they are ready to move on to their ultimate goal: wallets and bank accounts.
5. Ah, I ran out, can you lend me?
Once the scammer thinks he has talked to his victim for quite some time and has developed a fairly strong relationship, he will ask for money or various favors. At first they will ask you for something relatively insignificant, such as paying the vet for their sick pet or buying medicines. If they do, they will start raising the bar by asking for more money to get out of a difficult situation or to help a relative in need.
Some last tips
The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled this type of scam because it has limited people's ability to seek dating and companionship, leading many to turn to online dating platforms. This is not a bad thing at all, but it does have some risks. Therefore, it is good to approach potential acquaintances with a healthy dose of doubt and vigilance.
If an older member of your family has started an online romantic relationship and you suspect that he or she may have actually been the victim of a scam, there are many signs that can be revealed to you. Very often your relative:
• Refuses to talk about the "favorite" person he met on the internet and finds excuses why they have not met yet or have not made a video call.
• He seems to be obsessed with someone he has met on the internet recently.
He / she seems irritated or upset whenever you ask a lot of questions about his / her romantic partner, and often he / she does not even know what to answer.
• Reports that he has sent money electronically to a person he has not met up close.
If any of these describe a relative or friend, then you probably need to have an open discussion with them about what is going on.
Romantic fraud is a crime that often goes unreported, as many victims are ashamed to report it.
By noticing that something is wrong and discussing the problem, you are likely to protect your loved ones by helping them save a lot of money and πιθαν a possible romantic disappointment.