Beware of the Sweetheart Scam. Many older adults are falling victim to this scam. In 2013 there were 6,412 reports of sweetheart scams costing victims close to $82 million. Older people are especially at risk for fraud. Americans 65 and up are more likely to be targeted by con artists and more likely to lose money.
Sweetheart scams can happen on the Internet or in person. Con artists scour online dating sites, social media accounts and chat threads searching for targets. Those recently divorced or widowed can be especially vulnerable.
The sweetheart scam seduces victims into thinking they are in a whirlwind romance. Con artists pretend to want a romantic relationship to swindle the person. They use persuasion and emotional blackmail to hook and reel in a target.
Once the relationship is established, the criminal fabricates a crisis. A scammer might say he or she needs an operation or cash to visit the victim. Many victims are often embarrassed to come forward.