Tag: Sweetheart Scams

Understanding How to Keep Seniors Safe from Sweetheart Scams Throughout the Year

Are you a senior living in Florida? Are you aware of the tragic fact that Florida seniors are prime targets for cyber criminals? This is because it is perceived that seniors have access to money, are less tech-savvy than younger adults, and suffer higher incidences of loneliness and social isolation. There is a type of scam called the romance scam, or “lonely heart” scam, that is rising among seniors. According to the Federal Trade Commission, romance scams stole more than $304 million from Americans in 2020. Whether you are one of the Florida seniors who are prime targets for cyber criminals or have a loved one who is a Florida senior, let us share a few key tips about how seniors can protect themselves throughout the year.

Cyber criminals meet their victims online and present themselves as interested in genuine love or companionship. Once they have made an emotional connection with the senior he or she is typically lured into buying gifts, sharing personal information that can be exploited by identity thieves, and sending money through credit cards or financial institutions. As a major precaution, a senior should discuss any new online relationship with friends, family, and caregivers and pay attention to any advice they may give.

Keep in mind that it is never a good idea to send money to a romantic interest you have not met in person. It is a major red flag if a new social media or message board love interest asks you to send money, personal information, or data to access your bank account! Do not do it, in fact, no matter how tempting it is, you should break off all communication immediately. This is just one of the ways Florida seniors are prime targets for cyber criminals. Do not offer to accept money either, as it may be another way of gaining access to your financial accounts, or it may be an illegal money laundering trap.

As a Florida senior, you should always be extremely cautious if you spot a nice floral arrangement pop-up ad, get a thoughtful e-card from an odd acquaintance or stranger, or any other online gift. Remember to look for telltale signs of fraud before clicking on any online buttons. There are numerous fake websites and advertising scams out there that look real to the untrained eye, but are in fact fraudulent. In addition, also:

• Be wary of websites and offers that do not accept common payment providers like Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal.
• If you are going to buy something, stick to reputable websites that you already know.
• Avoid online greeting cards from unknown sources as they could be infected with malware.
• Google a curious website or ad’s name + “scam” or “complaint” and see what pops up.

Never forget that Florida seniors are prime targets for cyber criminals and be on guard at all times. If you or someone you know has been the victim of online romance scams, do not wait to contact law enforcement.

Most importantly, make sure you have picked an advocate who has the legal authority to act for you in a crisis that leaves you incapacitated. Under your Florida durable power of attorney your agent will be able to monitor your identity and accounts when you cannot to ensure that you do not fall victim to any scams. We encourage you not to wait to ask us, your Florida elder law attorney, any questions on this or any important issue facing Florida seniors today.

Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

Tips for Aging Children to Help Keep Florida Seniors Safe from Sweetheart Scams

Are you familiar with romance scams or sweetheart scams that seem more prevalent during the month of February and threaten Florida seniors? Are you a senior adult or have senior adult parents? Are you aware that scammers and cyber criminals often target senior citizens? Online senior scams have risen and continue to be extremely dangerous.

The question needs to be asked, why are senior adults more likely to be victims of a scam? We need to look at several different factors. First, aging seniors are believed to be more vulnerable. Secondly, they are known to often have large amounts of money in accessible accounts and be very trusting and easily manipulated. Thirdly, with the advent and use of the internet by senior adults, cyber criminals find it easier to target them and fool them. To make matters worse, scammers tend to target seniors when they are most vulnerable. During Valentine’s Day romance scams are prevalent and this shows us just how much aging adults, suffering from loneliness and social isolation, are at an elevated risk.

Are you a senior and wondering how you can protect yourself? Do you have a senior loved one in your family that you are concerned about? We would like to share eight tips you may use to avoid a “lonely heart” senior scam.

1. Be cautious when someone you do not know contacts you online. The person you see or you are communicating with may not be who you are really dealing with. Online cyber criminals are looking for older victims to begin a romance scam using social media, online dating or friendship websites.

2. Remember this golden rule: Seniors should always be suspicious whenever someone online attempts to gain their trust and affection if they have not met in-person.

3. Senior adults should never provide their personal information or send money to someone they have met only on the internet. Do not let anyone convince you to do so via social media, email or any other online forum.

4. If you meet someone on social media, like Facebook, and this person wants to quickly move to a private form of communication such as text or email, immediately become suspicious and do not agree.

5. You should absolutely never send intimate photos or videos of yourself. Scammers can use them to try to blackmail or embarrass you.

6. If you do plan to meet someone in person that you met online, be safe and bring someone with you and meet the person in a public place. Also, let your family, friends and caregiver know of your intentions.

7. If the person you met online addresses you by the wrong name, it may be a red flag that something is wrong. Scammers often work on several victims at once.

8. Be sure to tell family, friends, caregivers and neighbors immediately about your online experience if you think you are in contact with a potential scammer. Do not let embarrassment get in the way of protecting yourself.

9. Do you think you have fallen victim to a Valentine’s Day romance scam? It is never too late to call the police and your appropriate financial institution, let them know what happened so they may get involved and protect you.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Elder and Estate Planning Attorneys, PA, is a law office small enough to provide personal service but large enough to provide service in Jupiter, as well as Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties in Florida. Our law firm will guide you through legal challenges involving elder law, estate planning, trusts, veterans benefits, real estate, and more. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

How to Protect Yourself From Sweetheart Scams This February

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.