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Older online dating customers are in danger of being scammed out of money by fake sweethearts, and AARP is calling for dating websites to do more about it.
"Individual scammers and highly organized groups attempt to steal hearts and wallets from online dating site users every day," said Doug Shadel, an AARP Fraud Watch Network expert.
"The sites don't yet do enough to protect their members from known scammers."AARP is asking dating sites to use algorithms to detect suspicious language patterns used by scammers, search for fake profiles and educate members on how to avoid romance scammers.
Maybe most significant, it is asking dating sites to be more proactive, issuing alerts to members who have been in contact with someone using a fraudulent profile.
and e have online dating safety tips as a link on their home pages and mention safeguarding finances, and both use some of the techniques suggested by AARP.
Neither company returned a request for comment Monday."Some of the sites do some of the things we're asking for, but we're asking the industry to step it up because there are so many examples of horrible abuses," Shadel said.
And while some sites offer safety tips, they could make the advice more prominent or even require users to read them before joining, he said."As general types of crime have gone down or stabilized, financial exploitation, especially on the Internet, has just been skyrocketing," Shadel said.
"When this happens, people can lose their entire life savings."High medical expenses are Americans' biggest financial worry about retirement, topping concerns about running out of money, according to a new report by
The report found that 28 percent of Americans said medical costs were the biggest concern and households with income of more than...
High medical expenses are Americans' biggest financial worry about retirement, topping concerns about running out of money, according to a new report by
(Gregory Karp)While being scammed doesn't necessarily have to do with what sex you are or whether you're a senior, a common theme is the victim is emotionally vulnerable, often from recently losing a loved one, such as losing a spouse through divorce or death, Shadel said.
The emotional loss, Shadel said, "weakens your psychological immune system" when you would otherwise be able to "sniff this stuff out and defend against it."Besides generally being on guard for suspicious interactions and being wary when you're emotionally vulnerable, AARP offers a few Internet search tips to help prevent a scam:•Use Google's "search by image" feature to see if the person's image shows up in other places using a different name.•If an email from a potential suitor seems suspicious, copy and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites.•Verify that the person is real by matching what the person tells you about themselves to what you read on the person's Facebook, Twitter and Linked In pages.
AARP has launched an online petition asking for more safeguards by dating sites, which it says it will deliver to Match.com, e Harmony, Plenty of Fish, Zoosk, OK Cupid, Senior People Meet and Our Time.