Showing posts with label online dating scams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label online dating scams. Show all posts

Thursday, March 13, 2014

One-Third of Scam Victims are Over Age 65

None of us believe we will ever fall victim to a scam.  We are smart, educated, have common sense and we have decades of real-life experience.  There is no way that someone could fool us.  Right?  Unfortunately, professional scammers are working day and night to come up with new ways to cheat us out of our hard-earned money and, I'm sad to say, many of them have gotten really good at it.

According to the AARP and the National Council on Aging, people over age 65 comprise only about one-eighth of our population; however, they are the victims in approximately one-third of all scam cases.

If we are going to make sure our retirement savings last the rest of our lives, it's not enough to be certain that it is invested well.  We must also be sure that no one can trick us into turning some of it over to a fraudulent business.

Seven Common Scams Against Senior Citizens

Sweepstakes:  Beware of letters, emails and phone calls announcing that you have won a contest or sweepstakes, especially one that you do not remember entering.  If the contest administrators ask for money to pay them money in advance to cover taxes, insurance or other fees, it is almost certainly a fraud, since honest contests are not allowed to do this.  Call your local sheriff's office or county prosecuting attorney's office.

Online Dating:  If you put your profile on a dating site, be cautious if, after weeks or months of pleasant messages, the person you have connected with online begins to express a need for money.  They may say they want the money so they can afford to visit you or because they have a medical or personal emergency.  Frequently they will ask that you send the money in a wire transfer.  American women over the age of 50 are the most common victims of these scams.  They lost a reported $34 million in 2012, while American men lost approximately $5 million.  It is believed that many more cases go unreported because the victims are too embarrassed to tell anyone.  Each incident costs the victim an average of $10,000. 

Phony Charities:  I have repeatedly listed on this blog that people need to thoroughly vet any new charity before they make donations to it.  Never give your credit card information to someone who comes to your door or calls you with a charitable request.  Be skeptical of any charities that you have never heard of.  Check them out with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance,, or a similar charity evaluator.  Otherwise, stick to charities that you have dealt with in the past and trust, such as your religious organization, the Red Cross, United Way and similar well-known non-profits.

Grandparents Scam:  Two personal friends of mine have fallen victim to this scam.  Both of them were intelligent women who never thought they would fall for something like this.  Both of them discussed the situation with their husbands before sending money.  One of them is married to a retired Deputy Sheriff and even he was fooled.  In this scam, a upset "grandchild" or other relative calls, desperately begging for money and sobbing at the same time, so it is hard to recognize their voice.  Think you wouldn't be fooled?  People in the United States have reported losing $110 million a year to this scam ... and many more may not have reported it!

Home Repair Scams:  These scams happen most often after a major catastrophe that damages homes in your neighborhood; however, they can happen at other times, as well.  Someone may show up at your door offering to repair your gutters, fix your driveway, replace roof shingles or make other home repairs.  They can cheat you in one of two ways: either they ask for an upfront fee and then disappear; or they make shoddy repairs and keep asking for more and more money to fix new "issues" they find (or create).  Get recommendations for contractors from your friends, neighbors or insurance company before you use anyone.  Make sure they have a contractor's license.  Never hire anyone who unexpectedly shows up at your door.

Healthcare Thieves: This has been going on for a long time, but it is expected to become worse for a while because so many people are confused about the new Affordable Care Act.  A stranger, pretending to be a consultant, may offer to help you get free medical supplies or to help you understand changes to your insurance.  What they are really trying to do, however, is steal your identity, get medical care under your name, and leave you with the bill.  A woman here in Orange County, California, where I live, was arrested a few years ago for stealing another woman's medical identity and using the other person's identity to get several elective surgeries, including cosmetic surgery!

Investment Scams:  Unfortunately, these types of crimes did not end with the arrest of Bernie Madoff.  I have known several people who have fallen for these types of smooth-talking crooks.  One elderly couple we know lost nearly all their savings and were stunned when they discovered that "the nice young man" they trusted had actually stolen from them. This scam may start with a free-lunch seminar or some other special program set up under the guise of helping seniors find "low-risk" investments. People can be wiped out before they realize there is a problem.  Once again, stick with major investment firms or those that you know very well.

If you believe you have been a victim of a thief or scammer, contact your local police department, sheriff's department or the prosecuting attorney's office.  Keep any evidence you have that will help them identify the person behind the scam.

Other scams that often target senior citizens are counterfeit drugs, funeral scams, anti-aging products, and deceitful practices involving financial services such as reverse mortgages.  Always discuss major outlays of money with other family members as well as trusted financial advisers.

Bottom line:  Be careful.  Be skeptical.  Rely on all those years of experience that have kept you safe during your younger days.  You do not want to give away your hard-earned savings to criminals.

Whether you are already retired or about to retire, you may enjoy reading some of the other articles available on this blog.  Simply use the tabs at the top of the page to find the topics of most interest to you.  The tabs contain links to hundreds of additional articles.

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AARP Bulletin, Fall, 2013.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Online Dating Scams and Benefits

Are you lonely and hope to find someone to spend time with ... perhaps even marry?  Many senior citizens have turned to online dating sites, and there is nothing wrong with that.  You will see these sites advertised on Yahoo, along the sidebar of this blog and in other reputable locations.

However, if you do decide to sign up for a dating site, there are a few common sense precautions you should take.  Below is some information to help you enjoy these sites, while protecting yourself ... and your savings account.

What You Should Know About Online Dating

I have actually covered the topic of online dating scams in detail in another blog which I write.  You can read that detailed article here:

Lies and Liars: Online Dating Scams

As you will discover in the above article, while many people are nice on these sites, there are a few scammers that you could encounter, and they are looking for vulnerable people to become their next online dating victims.  The scammers put together new, imaginary identities for themselves, and create a wonderful back story.  They depict themselves as being caring, thoughtful, loving, fun, well-traveled and interested in a wide variety of sports and hobbies.  They may use stolen pictures of attractive middle-aged people.  Sometimes they pose as men or women with successful professional careers.  Who wouldn't want to date someone like them?  They sound great, but they are really scammers who are simply trolling for their next victim.  You do not have to be a victim of this small group of scammers, however!

How To Protect Yourself From Online Dating Scams

Although you will find more details in the article I mentioned above, below are the basics that everyone should know.  While these actions will not guarantee that you will not be scammed, they can dramatically reduce the chances.

*  Go slow in forming relationships with someone on an online dating site.
*  Use paid dating sites; the people on them have to use credit cards and real identities.
*  Give preference to sites that do criminal background checks.
*  Do not give out personal information for a long time ... where you work, live, etc.
*  Speak with them on the phone or by Skype before meeting them.
*  Meet at a neutral location several times before meeting them privately.
*  Avoid long-distance relationships ... they may not live where they say.
*  Become very suspicious if they begin to need money for a sick relative, a business problem or in order to buy tickets to visit you.
*  Google the person's name and check them out on or to see if there are complaints about this person scamming someone else.

Advantages of Online Dating Sites

While there are some risks involved with dating sites, they can also be a wholesome, positive way to meet someone.  Thousands of couples have met and gotten married after getting to know each other through online dating.  There are good people on these sites.

Many of the Baby Boomers I know are divorced or widowed, and they are hoping to meet someone new.  They no longer hang out in bars, and their circle of friends may not be as wide as it was in their younger days.  Often the clubs and organizations they do join are made up primarily of members of their own sex.  As a result, they aren't sure how to meet members of the opposite sex and form new romantic bonds.  They may want to date, but just not know how to meet other eligible people near their own age.  This is why an online dating site can be a pleasant way to meet someone you might want to date.

Fortunately, the majority of the people on these sites are nice, honest, respectable people like yourself.  Many of them really are attractive, considerate and fun-loving people.  Just take your time and follow the recommendations above and you are much more likely to have a positive online dating experience.  Don't rush into anything and, if you have any doubts, discuss them with your friends.  They can help you make sure you are thinking clearly and not putting yourself at risk.  In fact, there is nothing wrong with bringing along a friend the first few times you meet a stranger.  You'll be much more comfortable ... and safer!

To stay up-to-date on all the latest scams, swindles and hoaxes, you are invited to follow my Lies and Liars blog, as well as this one.

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