Romance scams targeting older Americans on Facebook
Published 1:32 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Facebook has witnessed a troubling surge in romance scams, with older Americans becoming prime targets.
Deceptive individuals setting up fake profiles on dating sites and Facebook are courting seniors, who may be more trusting due to generational values or may be lonely following personal losses. Once a bond is formed, scammers move to private messages or emails, soon asking for funds for emergencies or pressing situations. Many victims, out of trust or empathy, send funds only to find out they’ve been deceived.
In 2021 alone, reported losses from these scams reached staggering amounts. Victims often make payments through direct bank transfers or untraceable means like cryptocurrencies, making the recovery of funds almost impossible.
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Why are older Americans falling for these traps? Here may be a few reasons:
- Generational Trust: Many seniors can be exploited due to growing up in a time where trust was a default.
- Desire for Companionship: Loneliness can make the promise of companionship alluring.
- Fear of Stigma: Some victims don’t report scams due to embarrassment or unfamiliarity with digital reporting methods.
However, the following safety steps can be employed:
- Verify Profiles: Rapid relationship progression can be a red flag. Use search engines and tools like Google Image Search to check profile authenticity.
- Ask Direct Questions: Scammers often falter under direct inquiry.
- Suggest Video Calls: Real individuals would be open to visual communication.
- Check Profile History: Authentic profiles have a history, fake ones appear new.
- Keep Personal Details Private: Never divulge personal or financial information.
- Seek Second Opinions: Discuss online relations with friends or family.
- Trust Your Gut: If something seems off, it likely is.
As the digital age progresses, Facebook users must be armed with information and tools to navigate the online world safely. The hope is that increased awareness can curb the rise of these heartbreaking scams.