This Valentine’s Day and beyond, millions of Americans are meeting
others on matchmaking websites, dating apps and social media. But not all those
new connections are meant to be, as 37 percent of Washington residents polled
in a new AARP survey (aarp.org/onlineromancescams)
reported that they, a family member or a friend have encountered attempted
financial scams while seeking friendship or a love interest online.
To help empower people to take steps to protect themselves and
their family members, the AARP Fraud Watch Network has launched an educational
campaign to raise awareness about online-based relationship fraud schemes.
The idea of going online to broaden one’s social networks continues
to gain in popularity. More than half (56 percent) of Washington adults
have used the internet to find new friends, dates and/or romantic partners,
according to the AARP survey.
But scammers also use the dating sites, apps and social
The AARP survey found that 18 percent of state residents have
either been victimized by an online relationship scam or know someone who
A significant number of victims (64 percent) reported
suffering a negative effect on their physical and/or emotional health.
“Many of us, along with our family members, have successfully made
new friends or even established deeper relationships online,” said AARP State
Director Doug Shadel in a news release. “But as with every other aspect of life
these days, you must be aware that the criminal element lurks there also. Our
message is: protect your heart – and your
The AARP educational campaign includes advertising, webinars,
podcasts, videos and tip sheets, all available at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. Each
of the campaign’s content elements urge consumers to recognize the warning
signs that their online suitor could be a fraudster:
communicate with you through email or instant messaging.
more like a model from a fashion magazine than an ordinary snapshot.
always seems to come up with an excuse to cancel.
reasons: travel, medical emergencies, visas or other official documents, or losses
from a financial setback. Nineteen percent of respondents in AARP Washington’s
survey said a friend or romantic partner whom they have only met online has
asked them to help them financially in some way.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reports there were
15,000 victims of confidence fraud/romance fraud in 2017, with more than half
over age 50. Financial losses in these scams totaled $220 million in 2016,
according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network was launched in 2013 as a free
resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert”
emails that deliver information about scams, or call a free helpline at
877-908-3360 to speak with staff and volunteers trained in fraud counseling.
Daily and Monthly NewsSign up now!