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  • Writer's pictureKaren McPhail, RN, MSN

Romance Scams and Elder Fraud - Even More Common During COvid- 19

Romance scams and elder fraud are challenges for many across our country, and are becoming even worse during the challenging times of Covid-19! People are detached, lonely, and now even more at risk as many older adults are actively seeking out socialization online and not understanding that not everyone is honest, well intentioned, or who they say they are online. Scamming is a big business and scammers now have a captive audience due to Covid! Many families sadly do not notice the subtile signs or simply downplay incidents which can lead to major problems later. Always be prudent and mindful in addressing problems head on! Report to the authorities any incidents timely! Along the same lines, be proactive. Safeguard programs and other preventative measures can be put in place to prevent and limit elder fraud. However, other aspects need to be explored and the true nature of what makes an individual a viable target needs to be considered along the way. Many competent, intelligent individuals are taken in daily by scammers and sadly competent people can and at times do make poor choices. In an attempt to safeguard and support the individual properly, one must effectively evaluate and put in place individualized interventions to safeguard and prevent dysfunction processes when possible from forming. With this approach often times dysfunctional cycles can be halted and functional patterns can be set easier as this approach can limit or minimize the shameful feelings of regret that are often experienced by those taken in by scammers.

1. Fostering Connections and Positive Relationships

Older adults with strong friendships and community involvement are less likely to be isolated or lonely — traits that increase an elder’s risk of being taken advantage of. Everyone has a need for community, socialization, and purpose even those who are more introverted. This is especially important as people grow older and feel often times scared or fearful due to changes associated with aging. Helping individuals to make positive personal connections routinely will limit them in connecting with potential predators.

2. Setting the Stage for Active Participation, Engagement, and Involvement

Like every adult, older adults need to feel a sense of purpose, have a routine, and be engaged! Keeping older adults active and engaged is important as they are less likely to reach out to potential predators due to loneliness, boredom, or the need for social engagement or friendship. Help the individual to make and form positive functional friendships and connections.

3. Educate Well and Often!

Educate your loved one the risks of online chat rooms and social media. Help them to set parameters for safety for internet use and other platforms. Encourage and reinforce this over time. Be proactive as one is more open to education and guidance before having an episode of fraud occur which can then lead to embarrassment, withdrawal, and more challenges.

4. Staying Well

In addition, older adults in poor physical health are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Increased dependence may lead to more family caretaker stress and burnout, raising the risk of elder abuse. Physically active seniors reduce their loss of mobility and increase overall health and functionality making them less of a target.

5. Forming Holistic Support and Fostering Trust

When older adults have social support and loved ones involved in their lives and feel comfortable talking with them it makes a big difference and stops potential problems. Be an active listener for your loved one; be someone they feel comfortable telling almost anything without judgement! Never scold if a love one is taken in by a scammer as trust me they feel bad enough! Help them to move forward positively with understanding and support! Involve them in an action plan to help them to move forward, feeling good about resolution and next steps! Having people who are approachable and positive helps individuals to have trust and feel supported. These people often do not back pedal or get taken in again. Transparent communication is the key to preventing many problems and helping individuals to be best supported. Some older adults who do not have family or social support may benefit from more frequent checks from a care manager or even online counseling or support groups to give them an outlet for feelings, emotions, and to provide routine supportive resources.

6. Additional Resources and Supportive Programs

Set up a mutually beneficial and supportive program to safeguard funds and prevent elder fraud. This can be done through a number of organizations and approaches. A daily money manager can be a terrific start! Reach out today if you require more information on the best approach to take!

Community resources for the older adults and their loved ones can provide family members with financial and emotional support, caregiving education, and breaks for personal time, reducing stress. Having safe connections will limit individuals in often connecting with potential predators or in being taken advantage based on need for attention, friendship, or purpose.

Check out this upcoming program through AARP which may be of assistance:


Lots of people meet friends and potential love interests online through dating sites, social media, or mobile apps. It can be a great way to meet people, but recognize that not everyone is who they say they are online!

Join us as AARP will be talking about the red flags to be on the lookout for anyone engaging in online relationships.

Join Us Jan 29th at 10:30 a.m.

Zoom Platform:

Meeting ID: 901 875 2818 | Password: 8727

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