Romance Scams Surged For Seniors During Pandemic | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams


Romance scams surged for seniors during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Senate Aging Committee was told today.

Losses reported to the Federal Trade Commission alone by the elderly from phony suitors rose to $139 million last year from $84 million in 2019.

The loneliness and isolation during the pandemic made the elderly particularly vulnerable because they were longing for human contact and a friendly voice on the phone or a beckoning message on Facebook became harder to turn away from, said Aging Committee Chair Bob Casey (D-PA).

“Social isolation isn’t new for seniors, but the pandemic made it that much worse. Fraudsters saw an opportunity and pounced.,” the Senator said.

He added decrease in contact from family and friends made it easier for small scams even now to balloon into big scams including peddling fake cures and stealing funds.

Speaking to the large increase in romance scam perpetrators targeting the elderly, the Ranking Republican on the Committee, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina noted seniors are isolated and lonely and may be more susceptible to this type of fraud and this type of scam.

Romance scams were the biggest source of fraud reported to the FTC by the elderly in the 60-69 and 70-79 age groups.

The frauds were an important driver of the doubling of bank transfers and payments by older adults in 2020, and reports of cryptocurrency payments more than tripling,

FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Associate Director Lois Greisman told the Aging Committee hearing.

The FTC official added many people reported that romance scammers used the pandemic to explain requests for money or their inability to meet in person.

She explained in romance scams fraudsters create fake profiles, establish trusting relationships, and then trick consumers into giving or loaning them money.

Romance scams were among the frauds causing the highest losses for seniors, National Consumer Law Center Attorney Odette Williamson said:

“Widespread illness and death combined with the social isolation and distancing measures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic created fertile ground for the proliferation of certain scams primarily aimed at older adults.”

The Better Business Bureau Institute for Marketplace Trust found romance scams romance scams were the riskiest types of fraud during the pandemic for people 55 through 64.

Making romance scams particularly difficult, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) said it’s difficult for law enforcement to find the perpetrators.

Kate Kleinert, a victim who testified at the hearing, claimed she reported the fraud to police but they wouldn’t listen to her.

The widow told the Committee she was frustrated by the lack of options she had to recover the $39,000 she gave the suitor imposter or the ability to hold him responsible.

“$39,000 to some people is not much, but for someone in my position it’s a great deal. I am still paying for that today because I can’t get things repaired at the house. I’ve had no air conditioning this summer, my refrigerator is off, and my stove is off, the victim relayed.

She said the loss that hurt her most wasn’t the money, but “losing his love and losing the family I thought I was going to have and what my new future was going to be.”

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