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Do you have senior loved ones in your family? Do all of you live in different parts of the country? Do you regularly communicate and visit with them via the internet? As you Facetime, Skype or Zoom with your senior loved ones during the month of February, are you aware that “Sweetheart Scams” involving senior loved ones are prevalent right now? What are “Sweetheart Scams”? They are scams where con artists are offering their time and affection in an attempt to get their victim’s money.

In fact, your senior loved ones need to be aware and warned that during the month of February many online scammers will attempt to take advantage of the emotional vulnerabilities of seniors as they share their feelings on the internet. Your senior loved ones need to know that seniors are prime targets due to the increased likelihood that they have access to money, are less tech-savvy than younger adults, and suffer from a higher incidence of loneliness and social isolation. We would like to share three tips on how you can help your senior loved ones protect themselves from any “Sweetheart Scams”.

1: Do not ever send money to anyone you meet on the internet. Warn your senior loved ones that if they meet anyone online and after a few online meetings this person begins to express genuine love and companionship interest and then asks for money, be skeptical and do not do it. A genuine romantic partner will not ask for money from you. Another new scam is to ask for investment money for bogus investments like cryptocurrency. Watch out! No matter how tempting, it is important to break off all communication immediately. On the other hand, do not ever offer to accept money either. Accepting money may be another way of gaining access to your financial accounts, or an illegal money laundering trap. Always protect yourself by reaching out to family and friends for advice.

2: Always be suspicious of anyone you meet online not wanting to meet in person. Would someone who is truly a romantic online interest really not be able to meet in person? So, if you do meet someone online, be patient and take your time getting to know the person before committing to a relationship. In fact, be very careful of people who claim to have fallen in love with you very quickly, before you have met in person or even talked on the phone. Always be careful not to share personal information online, including your last name, address, and financial information. Again, it cannot be said enough, reach out to family and friends for advice.

3: Be wary of any claims made by romance scammers. Be extremely careful when you meet someone online who claims to be from the US but is currently traveling or working abroad. Scammers often use this excuse to explain why they cannot meet in person. Know that you can use a search engine to check a person’s name, email, or phone number to see if they have a history of scamming. If you are unsure how to do this, ask a family member or friend. Be extra cautious if the person you are talking to says they are in the military, an oil rig worker, or in a similar profession because many scammers use this as a ruse.

It is important that you and your family protect your senior loved ones against any type of scammers, including “Sweetheart Scammers”. Be sure to protect them by talking weekly, if not daily, about any new online relationship. If one of your senior loved ones has been the victim of an online romance scam, contact an experienced Florida elder law attorney to learn more about your rights and appropriate courses of action.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. At Britton G. Swank, P.A., our mission is to guide you in the right direction to help you provide for yourself and your loved ones no matter what the future holds. We want to help you control the assets you have, leave them to people and causes you care about, when you want, in the way you want. We can help you take care of yourself and those you love in the event of disability due to illness, injury or old age. No matter what risks unfold, we can help give you the comfort of knowing you are prepared. We want you to feel good about your future and the future of your loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.