Online dating can bring lots of joy and spice in your life, but it is important to know these tips to avoid scams.
Nothing sounds better than spending your senior years with the love of your life. People love options, which makes online dating seem like a fantastic option. While online dating can be very promising, it can sometimes lead to not so great results. Online dating scams targetting senior citizens have become even more prevalent in recent years, though they have existed for a few decades.
These scammers also typically act like they are falling head over heels for you in only a short amount of time. Sure, flirting is completely natural under these circumstances, but when the person mentions marriage after only a few weeks of chatting over the internet, this is obviously a huge red flag and something to watch out for.
Victims have lost millions of dollars to romance scammers, a loss that could have been prevented by taking the necessary precautions. Here we have placed a few great tips to help you understand what to look for to ensure that you do not fall victim to senior online dating scams.
Why Do Scammers Target Seniors?
Senior citizens are often quite lonely during their retirement years, and this is especially the case when they are single.
Scammers know this and take full advantage of it. Scammers also know that seniors are more vulnerable during this time of loneliness, which means seniors have a huge gap that they are willing to sacrifice in order to get some spice back in their life.
They are trusting
A study that was performed by the FBI recently, concluded that people who were born in the era of pre-1950s are much more trusting than our current generations. This means that seniors are much more likely to trust someone like a scammer, thus giving the scammer a much higher chance of a successful scam versus targeting the younger generation.
They don’t report scams
While some seniors report scams, the vast majority do not. This is because most seniors do not know where to report these people, or even where to get started.
This gives a scammer a perfect reason to target seniors for the sole reason of having a much less chance of being caught, much less reported. This reason is partially because seniors may not want their family to think they are losing cognitive function, in relation to not knowing what to do. Always contact your local authorities if you suspect you are being scammed; they will guide you in the right direction.
Oftentimes, seniors retire with some sort of pension or retirement funds that have built up over many years of hard work, and scammers won’t hesitate to take full advantage of this.
They know that often, seniors have extra money reserves built up over time, and when mixed with the fact that they may feel lonely and more trusting in their later years, this ends up in a train wreck causing the senior to fall victim. In some cases, this has gone on for years due to the fact that some seniors have diseases such as dementia, causing the senior to confuse the scammer as someone like a grandson. Scammers know that seniors wouldn’t bat an eye at helping their grandson, which is a win-win situation for the scammer.
They really care
Though the current generation undoubtedly cares, it is no surprise that the senior citizens do as well, if not much more. Scammers realize this and take full advantage. A scammer may ask for money after a short time of convincing the elder he loves her, and make some sort of excuse like they need immediate life-saving surgery. The senior, caring as much as she does, sends the money with no hesitation.
Preventing Senior Online Dating Scams
Examining profile photos
Everyone wants to put on their best front when introducing themselves online, and this is especially the case with profile photos; this is because it is the first thing you see when checking out someone’s profile. Although the desire to look nice in a profile is natural, sometimes when something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
A few ways to spot a fake or bogus profile photo is by checking out the background, clothing, jewelry, vehicles, or any other materialistic items. For example, if you are browsing through the options available to you and come across a profile with a man sitting in front of a Lamborghini, or wearing a Rolex watch, this is cause for suspicion. Obviously, this does not automatically write this person off as a scammer, but it is important to understand that scammers particularly love using these photos.
Nothing grabs the attention of others more than luxury cars and expensive material items that a simple swipe could acquire you. Scammers typically like using stock photos as well — which leads to our next prevention method, Google reverse image search.
Using Google Reverse Image Search
Google reverse image search is a great way to distinguish whether or not an image is stolen. The process is really quite easy. You can simply head over to Google and upload any photo you would like, and Google will search billions of websites to see which ones that photo has been uploaded to. But how do you know if the photo is stolen?
One way to check if that photo has been stolen is to check if it has been uploaded by profiles using different names. You may even find that it is actually a stock photo. If this is the case, then it is very likely a stolen photo used to catfish. However, if you find that the photo is connected to only one name, then they are most likely who they say they are.
Avoiding a date
The main purpose of dating websites is to find the right match, so you can set a date to see if the two of you connect. Scammers obviously will avoid this, but they can be very creative about the way they avoid it. This can be anything from a minimal cold to something more drastic, like a sudden accident, hence their unavailability.
If you ever find yourself matched with someone and they prefer to wait a week or two before meeting in person, there is typically nothing to worry about. But if this goes on for more than a few weeks, this could be cause for suspicion.
They ask you for money
While scammers may try to scam you by stealing personal information, the most common way they get you is by requesting money.
They can sometimes get very creative about what they tell you the money is for. It almost always starts small; for example, they may ask for small amounts of money for a quick tire fix. This common ploy often quickly grows into a much larger number, even into the thousands range. Oftentimes, the reasons quickly become more and more elaborate as well, such as emergency medical care for a relative. These can certainly be cause for concern.
Unfortunately, seniors are especially vulnerable to this because they usually do not have a great understanding of these scams. As we all know, an honest person would never create a false scenario simply to get money out of someone. Do note that while asking for money doesn’t point to a scam in every single case, it is usually not a chance worth taking.
You match with what seems like the man of your dreams, and though he lives on the other side of the world, you push that aside because you have quite literally found a Prince. Be careful, though; this is a very popular scam and I have personally known someone come very close to falling victim for this. In the beginning stage, they will start to build a story that’s all fiction to build a bit of rapport with you, and when he sees fit, he will begin asking for money.
Eventually, he will tell you that he has an excessive amount of money and needs you to send him money in order to unlock his funds. You send him the money and never hear from him again. It may seem obvious to some, but these Prince impostors are very well-trained with scripts and have very convincing ways of gaining trust; this is their job, after all.
Lacking proper grammar
A very simple way to distinguish a scammer from an honest person is by evaluating their English. If they claim their first language is English, yet lack the proper English skills to communicate, this is definitely a cause for concern and a potential red flag. However, if they tell you that English is their second language, there is usually nothing to worry or be wary about. The main exception would be if they begin asking for money in this example as well.
Calling your match
The vast majority of the time, scammers are located overseas, which means they more than likely have a noticeable accent. Calling your match is not unusual at all, and most people do this to set up dates or get to know each other more than what messages can provide.
However, if you ask your match to call after you both have chatted for a few days, and they come up with an excuse, especially more than once, then this is definitely not a good sign. If you do by chance find yourself on a call with this person, pay attention to their accent. If they claim to be a born American yet they have an extremely heavy accent, then this is almost certainly a scam and you should use caution.
Questions to Ask Your Potential Scammer
For more ideas, you can read our more detailed article on questions to ask a romance scammer.
Have they been to college?
Asking them if they have been to college can quickly help you determine whether or not they are who they say they are. For example, if they state they obtained a computer science degree at XYZ college, simply go to the college website and check if that college actually has that specific program. If they do not, then this person is likely lying to you.
Do they live nearby?
If they claim to live in a nearby city or live in the city that you live in, ask them what sort of activities they enjoy doing.
You could ask in a way so it sounds like you are trying to make future plans. Something like “Do you have any suggestions of places we could have a beautiful romantic date at?” If they have a pause in-between the time they respond and end up only telling you about an extremely cookie-cutter location, such as a popular restaurant chain, they likely used Google search to look up a place.
There’s a very high chance he won’t even be located in the same country as you. But if he continues the conversation and mentions more than one place, especially locations popular with locals, then this is a very good and encouraging sign.
What career do they have?
Although not everyone may feel comfortable sharing their full name, asking them to add you on Facebook could possibly help you distinguish if they are honest about their identity.
For example, if they add you on Facebook, look through their profile and check for anything fishy. If the person in the profile photo matches the one on the dating website, this is a good sign; especially if their profile is active with likes and comments. An inactive profile with barely any friends that is lacking profile structure like pages liked, friends, comments, is all a bad sign; especially if the profile has been recently created. This person could very well have created this profile specifically for you.
Be careful though because Facebook romance scams are also very common among seniors.
Story: Georgina’s Unfortunate Senior Online Dating Scam
New to social media, Georgina quickly realized that she had the possibility of finding the soulmate she has been spending a lifetime in search for.
Shortly after signing up, she soon received a friend request from a man claiming to be active duty in the US Military. Over time, they both seemingly became very close and would mainly stay in contact over email. The man gradually began inventing false emergencies, resulting in Georgina sending him money.
It began initially with small amounts, but eventually resulted in Georgina sending over $10,000 to the man in a very short amount of time. Georgina didn’t care about the money at the time; she only cared about helping him, because she had developed a great affection for him.
Later on, she found out the truth. She contacted authorities to learn more about his situation and learned that she had fallen victim to a scam. This happens nearly every day in recent times, so it is crucial to be careful and pay attention to who you are really talking to online. Never send anyone money or give out any personal details to anyone online, especially within a dating website. This is a scam waiting to happen.