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Con artists are targeting women who are over 50 on popular dating sites. The women using these sites may be widowed, single, divorced, whatever and they want to meet somebody.
The digital version of the romance con is now sufficiently widespread that AARP's Fraud Watch Network has urged online dating sites to institute more safeguards to protect against such fraud.
The AARP network recommends that dating site members use Google's "search by image" to see if the suitor's picture appears on other sites with different names.
If an email from "a potential suitor seems suspicious, cut and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites," the network advised.
The website lists red flags to look for to identify such predators, who urgently appeal to victims for money to cover financial setbacks like unexpected fines, money lost to robbery or unpaid wages.
Most victims say they are embarrassed to admit what happened, and they fear that revealing it will bring derision from their family and friends, who will question their judgment and even their ability to handle their own financial affairs."It makes me sound so stupid, but he would be calling me in the evening and at night. We had plans to go to the Bahamas and to Bermuda together," says Louise Brown.