Covid, Aging Parent Loneliness And What You Can Do To Stop The ‘Sweetheart Scam’ | #philippines | #philippinesscams | #lovescams

Covid restrictions for those over 65 have remained in place for months in most places. Widowed aging parents may have no one to touch them, be with them, or pay much regular attention to them. Some seek company on the internet. Dating sites for those over 50 years of age are out there, and your aging loved one just might want to give one of those sites a try, motivated by isolation. Know the risks if you have an elder in your family who is lonely and seeking company on the net.

Scams by criminals seeking to exploit elders who are alone are nothing new. But with so much pandemic related isolation, loneliness is more acute than ever. Schemes to extract money from lonely seniors rise up in new ways. If your aging parent is online looking for love, you can be on the lookout for potentially harmful connections they could be making. Here are some safety steps you can consider.

  1. Watch for signs of The Sweetheart Scam. It is pervasive. This scam is characterized by a determined thief seeking out your aging parent, and insinuating him/herself into the elder’s life, using flattery, praise, proclaiming how wonderful the elder is and learning as much personal information as possible about the elder. At some point the scammer asks for money or financial information. Caution your loved ones about any request for money or other personal financial information.
  2. Listen carefully to your aging parent’s description of a new love interest. Red flags emerge. A week after meeting an elder, the scammer professes to be in love with the elder. Pronouncements of love very early in the relationship are another warning sign. Loneliness creates vulnerability. The scammer knows just what to say. Your loved one falls for it because if feels nice to have attention and the scammer relieves the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Your loved one can get ripped off and the “sweetheart” quickly disappears with money or ID theft.
  3. Monitor your aging parent’s email. If your family member is looking for love and companionship, predators know this. They get on dating sites, post a false picture and pretend to be interested. If you can learn your parents’ passwords, you can sign in and see who is contacting them. Yes, you’re being a busybody but ask anyone whose lonely mom or dad has been swindled and they’ll tell you they wished they had been a busybody and prevented it. Trusting your aging parent may not be enough.
  4. Do surveillance on the new “friend.” If your single Mom or Dad claims to have a new boyfriend/ girlfriend, find out the name of the friend and check that person out. When you do a simple Google
    search for a real person using a real name, you are likely to find out something about them. If there is absolutely no internet presence, no photo, nothing to identify the person, it’s a bad sign. Using a fake name is one way a predator sneaks into a vulnerable person’s life and tricks them into giving up money, or other things of value. Fake names and photos are easy to post online. You can do a reverse image Google search on the photo the “friend” posts ( A fake stock photo could be posted on the site, a tipoff of a scammer at work. They disappear quickly after the theft, leaving no trace.
  5. Do a public records search on the new friend. It can reveal a lot. Some searches are free. More detailed multi-state background checks require a fee. They will show you such details as marriage and divorce records, criminal convictions, and addresses. If you are at all suspicious of an aging parent’s new “friend” it is worth doing this. It can confirm that a person is who he says he is or that there is no criminal activity from the past. From my point of view anyone using dating apps should do a public records search on any prospect who seems interested. It’s too easy to lie on the internet.

Any crisis breeds new opportunities for criminals. This pandemic is no exception. It’s wise to watch over aging parents who are using the internet, and may try dating apps or sites promising the match them with a companion or date. It may be just fine but there are these dangers to bear in mind as well. Vigilant family members can protect a naive family elder from harm by taking action.

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