Valentine’s Day is already past, and hopefully everyone got their fair share of chocolate! Sadly, I did not, but that’s by my own request. It always looks better to appear that I am trying to stay on my diet and piously waiving any attempts of candy. Later I will just walk down to the freezer in my barn under the guise of getting more vegetables and pull out a piece of chocolate cake. I won’t be able to eat it in front of anyone that thinks I am truly dieting, so no time for it to thaw to a palatable texture. I will have to stand hunkered over the freezer, gnawing on it like a granary rat.
But enough with my secret obsessions. Valentine’s Day also serves to remind us of a very sinister scam that is taking place nationwide under many guises – the Sweetheart Scam.
Primarily targeting the lonely older populations, (50 and above), these scammers often find a person on an online dating site and establish a bond of some type. They will converse enough to gain trust then persuade the victim to go “offsite,” often sharing email addresses and advising that they can get acquainted more effectively through personal conversations.
Now that they are free from the constraints and safety measures that the online dating site might have offered, the perpetrator will begin to move in very quickly, often declaring devotion and love to the vulnerable party. Pictures are sent that further enhance the scenario.
However, the “catch” usually comes in the form of the new love interest wanting to meet in person with the victim, but the cash shortage is preventing him or her from doing so. Often these scammers are from another country and say they want desperately to get to the states to be with the victim but such things as some recent atrocity has occurred and now there is no money.
Of course the victim, who by now, has developed a deep bond with the scammer is willing to do anything to get him or her here. However once the money is sent, one of two things will happen – either another disaster will arise that will require more funds (and this may keep going until the victim’s funds are exhausted) or you will never hear from the person again. Americans have lost thousands of dollars to the scam, or a variation thereof, and some have even lost their life’s savings.
So play it smart. If you are on a reputable online dating site, do not go off of it. If anyone that you are conversing with online asks you for money, RUN! In addition to dating sites, there are also many local organizations that can help you meet persons of your age including churches and senior groups.
Happy Valentine’s Day (a few days late.)
For more information, contact the Tri-State BBB at 812-473-0202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted 2/22/2016. This article was written for and appeared in the Evansville Courier & Press, dated February 21, 2016.