February can be an emotional month for some Older Americans. The Valentine’s Day holiday can create feelings of loneliness and isolation, which unfortunately leaves some seniors more vulnerable to scams. One such scam, the Sweetheart Scam, tends to increase in frequency during this time. This type of scam occurs when a scammer forms a relationship with a senior solely for the purpose of extorting them from money. This relationship is more commonly formed online, and the senior typically never meets their romantic interest. This often leaves the senior even more vulnerable and hurt. We know you care about protecting the senior you love both now and in the future. To help you do this, let us share a few ways to help your senior loved one avoid falling victim to Sweetheart Scams.
First, it is important that your senior loved one understands what a Sweetheart Scam is and the common elements of this type of scam and scams in general. This will hopefully help your loved one be able to identify if he or she is being targeted. Being a victim of a scam can be an emotional and embarrassing ordeal for your loved one. Encouraging your loved one to talk to someone they trust, whether that be a close friend or family member, if they have suspicions about a person they are involved with can help prevent the senior you love from becoming a victim.
We encourage you to remind your loved one that there should never be a valid reason that a romantic interest should need access to their bank information or Social Security Number. Often, the criminals involved in these scams will ask for money multiple times. If the senior sends money, it is likely that the criminal will continue to ask. Unfortunately, we often see that the romantic interest will disappear once they have received the money they asked for or the senior begins to get suspicious. This typically leaves the senior hurt, vulnerable, and even more lonely than before they were targeted by the scam. It is also important to remember that your senior loved one may experience long-lasting effects from the scam, particularly if the criminal received your loved one’s Social Security Number. Lastly, encourage your loved one to always be skeptical of people they meet online, until they are fully able to verify their identify and intentions.
Above all, one of the most effective ways to help protect your senior loved one from scams is by encouraging them to create a comprehensive Florida estate plan. If you have questions or are ready to help create a plan for your senior loved one, do not wait to contact our office.