The NY Times ran a great piece on how older women are targeted by scammers when they post profiles on dating sites. These women are choice victims because they have accumulated wealth from years of savings, and are often recently widowed and lonely–which makes them especially vulnerable to that interested and attentive stranger who knows just what to say as he heaps attention on them and eases their loneliness.
According to the piece, this industry is thriving and it could be worse than anyone really knows. This is because so many of these women don’t report it, due to a sense of shame–imagine that heaped upon a loss of significant cash or even one’s life savings. Women who were interviewed for this story talked about how good it felt to have someone to talk to who seemed to care so much. They described their hurt, shock, and shame. Many hid it from family and friends. All said they were naive and that these guys were just too good at it. Amounts up to several hundred thousand have been reported as lost to these scams–and one wonders if these women are now unable to keep their homes and lifestyles because of it.
Everyone from the FBI to the dating sites themselves have been working to find ways to identify and prevent these predators from gaining access and finding and conning their targets. Warnings are posted all over the sites, but too often they go unread. These guys have a formula that involves connecting, gaining trust quickly, then asking the target to use private email and phone contact instead of going through the website where it could be detected.
The formula usually involves posing as a businessman headed to another country for work who gets in a jam and needs money transferred to carry him over. In some cases, he needs money for his new business or for a project that is being held up until his own funds are accessible. Another one is when he needs money for medical bills due a medical emergency far from home. Then there is the classic one of needing cash so he can come to her and they can have that first in-person meeting and then more to follow.
The bottom line is that somewhere along the way He asks for money–and this should be where the red flags start flying. Never, ever send money to Anyone you don’t know well, like a close family member. It may sound impossible that this could happen to you or that anyone could be this bad, but they are. They are very bad.
Look for men closer to home. Check them out online to see if they are who they say they are. Google the “script” they send you about being in desperate need of quick funds–how much do you want to bet you will find it word for word listed on a scam identifying site. No.one can take advantage of you without your permission, so say no. A guy who is the real deal will only be interested in you, not your bank account.