Beware of the Latest in Senior Scams: the “Sweetheart Scam”

Senior old elderly person learning computer and online pension and banking internet skills protect against fraudIt’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began; a year of fear, isolation, and loneliness for a great many older adults. Physical distancing has taken away the ability to provide the warmth and comfort of a hug or even an in-person smile in many cases. Yet humans are social creatures, and this diminished socialization has numerous seniors turning their attention to online sources for connection – such as dating websites.

While this may appear harmless or perhaps beneficial, there can be unknown dangers for older adults specifically, known as sweetheart scammers. Here’s what to look for to help keep the seniors you love safe from senior scams:

  • Flattery that turns into requests for financial help. Financial gain is typically the sweetheart scammer’s primary objective. The scammer will use a variety of strategies to achieve that end goal, including targeting weak spots like loneliness. Praising, flattering, and professing everlasting love and affection for a senior the scammer has not met often moves into a request for money.
  • Overwhelming attention. The scammer will hone in on an older adult’s loneliness and vulnerability, lavishing relentless attention. Pay attention to how much time the senior is spending on conversations and texts with the person. You’ll also want to notice if the individual has been declaring his or her love for the senior, particularly early in the relationship. Scammers move rapidly to get to their end goal in the shortest time possible.
  • No online presence. A quick Google search for the older adult’s new love interest can help you assess if the individual is real. In the event the search produces no information of any kind in regards to the individual, it should immediately raise a red flag. You can also run a background check to uncover any criminal convictions, marriage/divorce certificates, or other public records.
  • A fake photo. Google supplies a reverse image search feature (images.Google.com) which allows you to determine if the individual’s profile picture is in fact a stock photo or stolen from another person.

You might even want to consider logging in to your loved one’s email account to monitor activity and help the senior discern between actual relationships and scammers.

Above all, talk with the senior about the prevalence of online sweetheart scams. Take note of your loved one’s description of his or her new love interest and exactly how the relationship is progressing. Point out any warning signs and help your loved one understand the danger he or she might be facing.

Generations at Home is here to help with safe, trusted caregivers to provide older adults with the cheerful companionship that alleviates loneliness, isolation, and desperation. Give us a call at 727-940-3414 or fill out our online contact form for a free in-home assessment for more information.

How Seniors Can Use Technology to Comfortably Age in Place

elderly woman is using a smartphoneWhether you’re looking to tune a guitar, learn a new language, or simply add cats’ ears to a selfie, there’s an app for that! And for seniors who choose to age in place, technology can be a key component in enhancing safety, comfort, and overall quality of life.

Take Amazon’s Alexa, for instance. While its current benefits for seniors are countless, including the ability to track glucose levels, make medical appointments, and research information related to a particular health condition, it’s actually poised to delve even deeper into the health care arena – perhaps even detecting heart attacks and helping doctors obtain accurate diagnoses.

Here are some additional technology solutions you might want to consider for a senior you love:

  • Home Security: A motion-detecting security system offers peace of mind related to crime prevention, but often can do so much more, such as alerting when sensing smoke, broken glass, or temperatures in the home that are too high or low, just to name a few. They’re also beneficial for those with dementia who may be prone to wandering, to alert to a senior’s movements in and around the home.
  • Telehealth: Save a trip to the doctor’s office by utilizing one of a variety of apps that allow for remote consultations from board-certified physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists, many of whom are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Fall Prevention: One of the top contributors to senior falls is insufficient lighting. Smart lights use motion detection to boost lighting in areas of particular concern, such as between the bedroom and bathroom, or on outdoor walkways, when triggered by a person’s movement.
  • Fraud Protection: Senior scammers are relentless and constantly evolving their tactics. Older adults can enhance protection through apps that keep an eye on financial activity and neighborhood crime activity, reduce robocalls, catch any usage of a person’s Social Security number, and more.
  • Health Care: A variety of health care needs can now be met from the comfort of home, including video chats with doctors to avoid a trip to the office, prescription ordering, and medication management to ensure meds are taken at the correct times and in the correct doses.

Contact Generations at Home for more tips on improving life at home for seniors – whether through technology, our professional in-home care assistance, or both! We’re always available to help set up and explain technological options, and to provide the tried-and-true, hands-on assistance in the home that empowers older adults to live their best lives. Call us any time at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation and let us know how we can help!