With Sweetheart Scams on the Rise, How Should Florida Seniors Protect Themselves?

As Valentine’s Day approaches we need to take special care to be on the lookout for an increased number of target attacks on vulnerable Florida seniors. Even if you do not believe you would be susceptible or would make a good target, as a senior you may be a target simply due to factors such as your age, your employment status, your relationship status, or your neighborhood. Unfortunately, research tells us that scammers continue to view Older Americans as an easier target for their scams.

During this month of February we need to take time to be especially vigilant to ensure that we protect ourselves as well as any of our aging loved ones. Scammers are known to increase their efforts to reach their targets during especially emotionally vulnerable months. These are months such as November, December, February, and the birth month of the targets, where there can be increased feelings of frustration, isolation, and grief.

Two of the many crimes attacking Florida seniors right now are the Sweetheart Scam and the Grandparent Scam. Knowing the elements of these scams and sharing them with friends and family can go a long way toward depriving the criminal of his intended victim. Let us share key insights into both of these scams.

Unfortunately, research shows that “Falling in love with a con artist has consistently been ranked as one of, if not, the most expensive scams for the victims who have shared their stories with Fraud.org. It is not hard to see why. Love is a powerful emotion. Most of us would do practically anything to help out a friend or loved one in need.” Yet it remains one of the easier scams to target isolated and lonely seniors.

In this type of scam, the criminal pretends to be someone who is interested in dating a senior. They may meet online, on the phone, through email correspondence, or even in person at a senior-focused location. No matter what way they meet, the scammer is intent on building a loving and trusting relationship. The ultimate goal is often payment of some kind to the scammer from the senior during a time of need. The request is made after there is a strong relationship in place, when it will be harder to say “no”. Although this is not always the case, the scammer will often disappear or “ghost” once he or she obtains what was desired from the senior.

The second scam for Florida seniors to be aware of is the grandchild scam. In this scam, the scammer will sound young and frightened, contacting the senior to obtain money from him or her by posing as a grandchild. The contact is usually made by phone at a time when the senior may be disoriented, such as late at night. No matter how heart wrenching this may be, do not give money to the scammer. Instead, ask for the phone number where the scammer may be reached before hanging up the phone. Then, contact your grandchild’s parent and work together to find a solution.

In both these scenarios, be cautious. Always try to exercise caution in your judgment of new relationships and stressful circumstances. We know that this article may raise more questions than it answers and we want you to know we are here to help, do not hesitate to contact us.