It’s been a little over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started; a year of fear, loneliness, and isolation for many older adults. Physical distancing has taken away the chance to provide the warmth and comfort of an embrace and even an in-person smile in many cases. Yet humans are social creatures, and this decrease in socialization has numerous people turning their attention to online sources and inadvertently falling for a “Sweetheart Scam” targeting elderly citizens.
While internet connections often appear innocent and perhaps beneficial, there can be unknown dangers for aging parents. Here’s what to watch out for to keep the older adults you love safe:
- Flattery that turns into requests for financial help. Financial gain is typically the sweetheart scammer’s only objective. The scammer will employ a variety of techniques to achieve that end goal, such as focusing on weak spots like loneliness. Flattering, praising, and professing undying love and affection for a senior the scammer hasn’t met often progresses into a request for money.
- Overwhelming attention. The scammer will hone in on an older adult’s vulnerability and loneliness, lavishing relentless attention. Pay attention to your senior loved one to determine exactly how much time is being spent on texts and conversations with the person. You’ll also want to note if the individual is declaring his/her love for the older adult, especially at the beginning of the relationship. Scammers move quickly to get to their end goal in the shortest time possible.
- No online presence. A simple Google search for the older adult’s new love interest will help you determine if the individual is legitimate. In the event the search results in no information whatsoever on the individual, it should immediately raise a red flag. You can run a background check to uncover any criminal convictions, marriage/divorce certificates, or other public information.
- A fake photo. Google has a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) that allows you to determine if the individual’s profile picture is really a stock photo or stolen from somebody else.
You might also wish to give some thought to logging in to your loved one’s email account to check activity and help your senior loved one discern between actual relationships and scammers.
Above all, speak with the senior about the prevalence of online sweetheart scams. Tune in to your loved one’s description of his or her new love interest and how the relationship is developing. Point out any warning signs and help your senior loved one understand the danger she or he could possibly be facing.
Atlanta Home Care Partners is here to assist with safe, trusted caregivers to provide older adults with the pleasant companionship that alleviates loneliness, isolation, and desperation. Give us a call at 404-228-0103 for a complimentary in-home assessment for more information on how our Atlanta personal care services can help.