Romance Scams That Target Older Adults Rising: What to Do

Here are some tips to help you avoid falling for a scam, especially when a scammer tries to prey on your affection.

An older man looks uncertain as he looks at his smartphone while sitting next to his desk.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Love can make you do some pretty crazy things. At least that’s how the saying goes, right?

Well, now scammers are capitalizing on that by trying to use love to get their hands on cold, hard cash. In 2023 alone, the Federal Trade Commission reports, Americans lost $10 billion to scams, a $1 billion increase from 2022. The data is even more alarming for older Americans. The FTC says it received more than 2 million reports of fraud in 2022, with a third of those coming from adults 60 and older. The losses totaled more than $1.6 billion. So, how are seniors being targeted, and what can they do to protect themselves?

It’s no secret that more Americans are turning to online dating apps looking for love. A survey from the Pew Research Center found three in 10 Americans have used online dating. When it comes to older Americans, another Pew Research survey found one in six adults over the age of 50 have used dating apps. As this technology continues to emerge, scammers are following suit by creating fake profiles to manipulate users.

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Raising a red flag

Their goal is to gain your trust and affection by paying close attention to the information you share in an attempt to become your perfect match. They’ll seem genuine, caring and believable.

According to the FBI, scam artists often say they’re in the construction industry or involved in projects outside of the U.S. to make it easier to avoid meeting in person and more believable when they ask for money. If you do make plans to meet and they never can, that should raise a red flag. If someone you meet online needs your bank account information or asks for money for any reason, it’s most likely a scam.

So how can you avoid falling victim?

Here are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to romance scams:

Refrain from sharing personal details when posting online. In the world of social media, it’s become easier than ever for scammers to learn everything they need to know about you. Limit the information you do share and don’t give out personal details, especially if you’ve never met in person.

Research the person’s photo and profile. Look to see if the image, name or details have been used elsewhere.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut and be sure to ask lots of questions. If they’re pushing you to talk outside of the app right away, it could be a sign they’re trying to get your personal information, so be extremely cautious.

Never send or receive money. Do not share any financial details or send money to someone you’ve communicated with only online or by phone.

Consult with a financial adviser. If you become suspicious for any reason at any point, reach out to your financial adviser. They’re likely up to date on the latest financial scams and can provide advice and support if you end up in this situation.

Scammers always looking for ways to trick people

As the digital age continues to expand and grow, it’s more important than ever to use caution to stay safe online. Scammers are always looking for new ways to trick you into giving them your information. If you have any concerns or questions about securing your accounts, be sure to reach out to a financial professional.

Patrick Simasko is an investment advisory representative of and provides advisory services through CoreCap Advisors, LLC. Simasko Law is a separate entity and not affiliated with CoreCap Advisors. The information provided here is not tax, investment or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Patrick M. Simasko, J.D.
Partner, Simasko Law

Patrick M. Simasko is an elder law attorney and financial adviser at Simasko Law and Simasko Financial, specializing in elder law and wealth preservation. He’s also an Elder Law Professor at Michigan State University School of Law. His self-effacing character, style and ability have garnered him prominence and recognition throughout the metro Detroit area as well as the entire state.