Single Ladies In 50s And 60s Prime Targets For Online Romance Scammers

On the Internet, no one knows you're a grifting cat. (Vincent Verdult

On the Internet, no one knows you’re a grifting cat. (Vincent Verdult

Single ladies in their fifties and sixties are really in demand on dating websites. Unfortunately, they’re not popular in the way they might prefer. They’re prime targets for scammers, and victims typically lose $40,000 to $100,000. Once they realize what happened, they’re often ashamed to tell their families. That means word about this crime doesn’t get out.

The money goes straight into the pockets of scammers, who generally work in sophisticated rings in developing countries. Armed with stolen photos, they find good prospects through dating sites or Facebook, and type sweet nothings at them in chats and e-mails. (It probably helps to have multiple lovers going at once: lots of copy and paste.

The scheme targets people of both sexes and all ages, but older women can be lucrative and less savvy targets. The lover usually says that he (or she) is from an English-speaking country but working abroad for some important reason, sometimes even military deployment. After establishing the relationship, they begin asking for money: it could be for a work crisis, a medical emergency, or simply to travel to meet the target.

The scammer might also ask for a financial favor that turns out to be an advance fee scheme, or use their address to receive stolen goods.

You can get an intimate look at how one of these scams works in an episode of the podcast “Criminal,” where a son has some trepidation about his widowed mother’s new long-distance boyfriend.

Be careful out there. Be sure to warn people you know who don’t read stories online much, even if it might be uncomfortable to talk to your mom about her online dating life. One important step to remember is to perform a reverse image search on any photos you receive to see whether they’re stolen: you can do that at TinEye or Google.

Swindlers Target Older Women on Dating Websites [New York Times]
EPISODE TWENTY: GIL FROM LONDON (5.15.2015) [Criminal]

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