Scams target seniors during COVID-19

 On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – March 27, 2020 

by Columnist Thomas P Blake

Scams target seniors during the COVID-19 crisis

As always happens during challenging times when the public is concerned and confused, and therefore vulnerable–as we are now amidst this COVID-19 crisis–scammers come out of the woodwork to try to steal our money. Be aware. Trust your instincts.

One example: a text comes into your phone or a message into your email saying something like, “Your $1,200 assistance check is ready!” Don’t click on the link. They want your information and will attempt to steal your assets.

Another message example: “Some people you’ve been in contact with have tested positive for the COVID-19. We are not at liberty to give you their names. You need to take antibiotics immediately and the good news is they are free. You only must pay shipping and handling. Click on the link, fill in your payment information and we will ship your protection today.”

It’s bogus, antibiotics won’t stop the virus, at least that hasn’t been proven yet.

A third example: a message claiming to be from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) or WHO (the World Health Organization), saying you must prepay to receive a virus test in the mail. Again, don’t fall for it.

Or, they may offer free face masks, if you just pay shipping and handling.

If you must contact the CDC, or any other entity, go directly to their website. Again, do not click on links.

And with so many people sheltering at home, they have more time to be online and to online date. Which leads to more romance scams. I want to share with you briefly one romance scam that has been brought to my attention.

Remember, widows can be especially vulnerable and are the ones usually targeted.

                                Anatomy of a Senior Romance Scam

One of our Florida Champs shared a story this week on how a widow friend of hers in Florida, in her 70s, has fallen hook, line and sinker for a romance scam that’s preposterous. I will share a few of the details and point out some red flags.

The scammer reached her through an online dating site. First red flag, he’s working overseas, but he’ll be back in the states soon.

They’ve never met in person, never talked on the phone and have never skyped. So, she’s dealing with someone who could be anybody–a man, a woman, a child.

He has slowly gained her confidence. He said he had gifts for her; she gave him her snail mail address. Yes, some refrigerator magnets, one with a heart and an arrow through it, that said “I love you” at the bottom. But, now he knows exactly where she lives..

He is working her for as long as it takes. Our Champ is trying to bring sense to her widow friend, but, the widow is lonely and this scammer is playing that to the hilt. He is likely working multiple potential victims at the same time, knowing if he can fool just a few, he’ll be rich or at least make lots of money.

Here is an abbreviated copy of an email the scammer sent (her name changed). The scammer may have got his identity from someone he found on Wikipedia. I did not edit his grammar mistakes:

“Dear Sally, …You asked who I really am. I’m Admiral James Jones, a retired Navy Admiral and I was born November 11, 1954. I was a Captain of an aircraft carrier before I retired. I’m on a secret mission in the Middel East, which I can’t discuss it. I will be returning to the United States within the next few months and want to visit you in Florida.

Sally, I think I told you that my wife and I are divorced. We have two children, James Jr. and  Felina. Both are married. They live near Boston.”

Red flag: He says he thinks he told her that he is divorced.” He’s likely dealing with so many potential victims at the same time he can’t even remember what he told her.

“Sally, I’m happy that you now know who I really am. I didn’t want to tell you the truth before because I didn’t want to be bragging that I am a high ranking military official. I’m sorry if I lied to you. Also, the Navy doesn’t want revealed details of the secret mission I’m on. (hint: it’s repositioning oil tankers)

I know we both want love for each other. I’m so relieved now I don’t have to pretend I’m someone else. I hope you understand. When we are together, I can give you more details.

When I step off that airplane when I return to the states, I will propose to you right then. OK?  Ha Ha!

I love you so much.



Tom’s comments:
Here’s what the scammer might actually look like.

Caregivers need to have big hearts
This could be the Admiral

And why did the Fake sign his name as “Jose,” not James? Probably because when they first met online he used the name Jose.

And the scammer’s grammar is atrocious. Senior romance scammers are usually from foreign countries.

Plus, the scammer admits he lied to Sally early on.

People who say they’re working overseas in the military or on oil rigs, or for big companies—huge red flags.

Our Champ hopes to change her friend’s mind.

I don’t want any of our Champs to ever be scammed. Also, be skeptical of any COVID-19 related communication that requires paying money or submitting one’s personal information.

A reminder, the Meet and Greet for March in Dana Point has been cancelled. Probably April also.

Widow and widower LAT relationship

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – March 20, 2020
by Columnist Tom Blake
Widow and widower LAT relationship (living apart together)
Nearly half our Champs are widowed. They tell me they’d prefer meeting another widowed person because they’d both be able to relate to what the other has been through.
Today’s story is about a widow and a widower who reside in a small Midwestern city. They did not meet online; they met at a gathering.

As a member of our “Finding Love After 50” Facebook group, our Champ had read about and decided to try to initiate a new social life in his own town. He joined a group that had dinner together once a week.

At his first dinner, he saw a woman of interest to him, but she left before he could talk to her. She had also noticed him. A week later, she emailed him to see how he was getting along. But, several weeks went by; she didn’t attend another dinner.

He decided to email her and found that she had been away at her summer home.

It took them a few months to get together. When they first met in person, it wasn’t on a date. They met to discuss starting a widower and widow group in their city. Soon, they took an interest in each other. They found they loved many of the same things, such as being outdoors and enjoying nature.

They’ve been a couple for four years.

Today, how they approach their relationship
Gordon wrote, “My lady and I are in a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.

“We live less than 10 miles apart, we both own our homes, no mortgages, we have our own retirement/pension funds, and healthcare. We both have one grown, married child and each of us lost our spouses at a young age, after long illnesses and caring for them.

“Robin, (not her true name), my partner, is 10-years-younger than I and our previous lifestyles were much different. We have found that each of us has much to contribute to the other and can enhance each of our lives.

“She was married to a faculty member of a large university and I retired from a small community college, after 23 years in the Navy. We love being around the water and swimming.

“What makes it work for us is that each of us has embraced the other’s background and experience.

“I like to kayak, fish on a trout stream, hike and she has embraced that and now we both enjoy kayaking, boating, hikes, and being out of doors. She says she might even go fishing with me. I have taken up photography and editing photographs, her interests, and we take frequent trips to photograph and enjoy the out of doors.

“We do not agree on everything–such as politics. One is conservative, the other is liberal. We believe that our relationship is much more important than debating or arguing our political viewpoints.

“We want to live life to the fullest every day with a smile–in the time we have. Friends and family tell us that we are always doing something and comment they wish they would live as we do.

“We enjoy the smallest of things as well as the bigger adventures and never fail to stop smiling or take a single day for granted.

“One of our greatest claims to life since meeting is that we have never laughed so hard that tears flowed and our stomachs ache. We define love as happiness.

“Re: living together. As long as we are in good health, and, can do so, we will likely not live under the same roof; although, we periodically do when we go to her summer house for a week or two, travel to different places for vacations, or on overnight trips.

“We both enjoy our ‘days off,’ as we call them, to just rest up at our own homes for a day or two, enjoy our own space, and spend time the way each of us chooses independently. We also have household chores to get done.

“We see each other five to six days a week; those could be the entire day or as little as meeting at the gym in the morning.”

“We also go out for a cocktail, a music event, community activities, and take frequent car rides in the area in which we live and love.

“Robin has numerous girl friends that she periodically gets together with and I have hobbies including RC airplane building and flying, fishing, and other things I do on my own or with the few men friends I have.

“I dated numerous ladies prior to meeting Robin. She waited over two years after her husband’s death to begin dating. I was her first date after losing her husband.

“One thing that became very important and refreshing with Robin and I was the immediate understanding that our previous marriages were real (mine 41 years, hers 38 years) and would never go away. That the love we had then was lasting; although, we both learned very quickly that our new relationship was equally as good, different, and strong.

“We both understood our previous lives could not be forgotten and would not be relived. Yes, we both brought our share of baggage to the relationship and it had to be sorted and discarded.

“I have spent time with her husband’s family and she with mine. My son, soon after meeting Robin, announced to her that they really liked her and welcomed her into the fold. Her daughter was much slower to understand that her mother could have another relationship, but with time she is beginning to do so.”

Tom’s comment: A LAT relationship isn’t for all senior couples. A big issue: affordability. In a LAT, each will have an assortment of household expenses. Whereas, when couples live together, they will likely share or divvy up household expenses, including mortgage payments, property taxes and utilities, reducing the cost to each person.

The decision to live together should not be made solely because it’s more affordable. All the values we always considered important still are the first and most important considerations. Saving money can be the frosting on the cake.

Part 2
Reminder: No Meet and Greet this month in Dana Point.

On Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, my usual Stand Up Paddle Boarding buddy and I went paddling. It was a beautiful day and we made it a point to be six-feet away from each other.  I felt it was safe to leave the house. He wore this St. Patrick’s Day outfit. Lots of pictures were taken of him by people walking the sidewalks while we paddled. One young child was with her parents. She yelled to him, “What’s your name?”

My New Zealand paddling buddy, Russell Kerr, on St. Patrick’s Day

He replied, “St. Patrick.” The young child responded happily. So, thanks, Russell, for putting so many smiles on people’s faces during this somber time.

Also, because many people are self-quarantined, it can get lonely. Call your pals and have phone conversations. That can help. Encouraging news: A Trader Joe’s employee told me they will not run out of wine. Hurray!

A Reunion with Rosanne Cash

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  March 13, 2020
A Reunion with Rosanne Cash, an elegant, long-time friend
by Columnist Tom Blake

On Saturday night, March 7, I had a reunion with an elegant, long-time friend. I’ve written about her before, after seeing her at previous reunions. This reunion was so special, I was moved to share it with readers.

Don’t get the wrong idea. My partner of 22 years, Greta, was at my side. And as a special treat to me, so were my sisters Pam and Christine.

The reunion took place at the intimate and wonderful Poway Center for the Performing Arts, located in the quaint city of Poway, California, 23 miles northeast of San Diego, and about an hour’s drive from our home in south Orange County.

And why do I refer to it as a reunion? Because I’ve known this woman for 43 years, met her when she was about 21. Her name is Rosanne Cash, a multi-Grammy Award winner, and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

And if her last name has a familiar ring, it’s because Rosanne is the eldest daughter of the late Johnny Cash. That connection is how I met her.

In the mid-1970s, when I was the marketing director for the boxcar and caboose Victoria Station restaurant chain, I hired Johnny and worked with him for two years. He was our company spokesperson and sang our radio commercials. I also co-produced the Destination Victoria Station record album with Johnny Cash.

Needless to say, on the album, Johnny did 99.9 percent of the work; I just approved the songs that were featured on the album. He did the singing.

In July 1989, my sister Pam and I were photographed with Johnny, at Humphreys by the Bay in San Diego, a cozy concert venue next to the water with a plethora of yachts berthed alongside.

                    Tom                    Johnny Cash          Pam Blake Peters

July 19, 1989,  at Humphreys by the Bay – San Diego

When I published “Middle Aged and Dating Again,” my first book in 1997, Johnny endorsed the back cover with these words:

“In the 20 years I have known Tom Blake, he has become an authority on dating and relationships.”

I’m not sure how Johnny knew that, but I happily accepted his endorsement.

Because my sister Pam was with us last Saturday night, I printed out a copy of that 31-year-old photo of us with Johnny and gave it to Rosanne backstage after the show Saturday night.

Handing the above photo to Rosanne

Minutes later, a new photo was taken of Pam, Chris, Rosanne, me and Greta.

             Pam         Christine     Rosanne     Tom      Greta

March 7, 2020, Poway Center for the Performing Arts

In the last ten years, Greta and I have seen Rosanne, along with her husband/co-writer/producer and arranger John Leventhal, in concert five times, including last Saturday.

When Leventhal saw us backstage Saturday night, he said, “And who are you guys?” I surmised that Rosanne hadn’t briefed John that the Blake clan would be visiting backstage.

                 John Leventhal and Tom’s sister Christine

The Poway Center for the Performing Arts is a fun place in which to see a concert. It’s small, 797 seats. The ushers are pleasant, friendly and helpful. Michael Rennie, President and CEO of Poway OnStage, greeted us warmly and was accommodating by leading us backstage after the performance.

Check out their website for upcoming shows: And, unheard of these days, the parking is free!

The audience was mesmerized by Rosanne. Her voice is clear and beautiful. Her stage presence and mannerisms are gentle and polished. Her songs are personal, sang as if she’s telling a story that she experienced.

Leventhal is a master guitar player and joins in on limited vocals. He and Rosanne have been married 25 years. They have fun together on stage. They played without an intermission for 90 minutes.

It’s evident that Rosanne loves the United States; she mentioned unity for our country several times. My sisters were deeply moved by her performance.

She sang “Ode to Billie Joe,” as beautifully as Bobbie Gentry did, when Gentry made it a hit in 1967. At the song’s conclusion, Rosanne said, “That song was recorded 53-years-ago, and people are still trying to figure out what Billie Joe was throwing off the Tallahatchie Bridge.” Her comment triggered a huge laugh from the audience.

Rosanne’s rendition of “The Long Black Veil” was spellbinding. She sang “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” which her dad wrote, and she performed “Sea of Heartbreak,” an old Don Gibson tune.

She ended the concert with her 1981 hit song “Seven Year Ache.”

The applause brought she and hubby John back for an encore; she sang “Wayfaring Stranger” from the Ken Burns 2019 Country Music documentary, a tune her father had also made popular.

Add a future Rosanne Cash concert to your bucket list, it will be one of the most enjoyable 90 minutes of your life.

Her website:

This article appeared in an edited version of the online edition of the San Clemente Times newspaper on March 18, 2020. Scroll to page 17


Widower gives widower dating advice to senior women

March 6, 2020
by Columnist Tom Blake
Widower gives widower dating advice to senior women
Lately, I’ve been receiving some terrific emails from men, discussing what they’ve learned in their dating experiences. Most of the men are widowers. Over the next few weeks, I plan to share a few of the widower emails with you.

What has been refreshing–in almost all the emails–is the men have expressed understanding, empathy and respect for single women and what the women go through.

Today, Randy, 73, Fort Lauderdale, reflects on senior dating:

Randy wrote: ”Although I haven’t been on the dating scene for a while–due to finding and marrying my life partner–I feel I have a slightly different perspective on senior dating compared to what other people have posted.

“During my 15 years of dating as a widower, I was on nearly every popular dating website there is and dated multiple women. A significant number of them had some very creative, misleading and sometimes false data or pictures in their profiles. I also had some false information in mine.

“Although I used current pictures, I initially put my age down as 3-4 years younger than actual. Having guilt problems with this, I attempted to change it but, as another Champ stated in a recent eNewsletter, the primary dating website I was using did not allow that. I ended up deleting this profile and generating an ‘honest’ one!

“With all this dating and the associated creative profiles, I never had one bad date and developed several great friendships that exist even to this day.

“Why? I never went on a date with a long-term relationship primarily in mind. I went with the object of meeting a new and interesting person, who, regardless of chemistry, would make my life a little fuller and more interesting (besides, I hate to eat alone!).

“Nearly everybody on the dating scene can tell if that magic chemistry is there within the first five minutes. If chemistry is not there, I suggest attempting to draw the person in, to find if there are some common areas of interests–be it vocation, advocation, family, and yes, even politics.

“Everyone likes to talk about themselves and you might be surprised at how many times this results in a catalyst for that magical chemistry. If not, perhaps you’ve instead made a new friend!

“Bottom line: don’t treat a first meeting as an interview for a life partner, rather treat it as a chance to add a new and interesting facet to your life.”

Tom’s comment: In last week’s eNewsletter, Susie, Virginia, was quoted: “I have been tempted to put down a younger age. I just turned 78 and look years younger and act it too, but I feel my age is holding me back to meet men.

“I have always dated and married men that were five to 10 years younger than I, but now it seems men are not interested in a woman my age. What give’s Tom?”

In referring to Susie’s question, Randy stated, “A suggestion for Susie and those ladies in her circumstance: Many men like to date younger women or at least, those very near their own age and thus ‘screen’ potential dates accordingly.

“A man 75 will probably search for his preference between 60 and maybe 75. Not 75 to 80. Since someone like you, Susie, might be excluded, I found that many ‘young-feeling’ women do indeed put their mental age down in the profile, BUT, they admit the truth in the wording of the profile.

For example, ‘All my friends and acquaintances remark on how active I am and tell me I look and act like I’m 65, not my actual age of 78!’

“I found this to not only be acceptable, but it piqued my personal interest.

“I did not meet my new young bride (seven-years younger) on a dating site. She was a very distant acquaintance who just called me up and invited me on a date. Two years later, she agreed to be my wife and we celebrated our second anniversary last October!

“Advice to women: don’t be afraid to take the initiative!

“The past dating scene seems much like the present dating scene. I still maintain friendships with several of my previous special ladies and along with my bride’s friends, my bride and I hear the woes of dating often. We empathize and sympathize with them and wish there were both more and better male candidates. Unfortunately, it is what it is!

“Among my single male friends, I find a declining dating interest even in those who are still out there. The financial issue is one factor. I have at least two friends who have confided that they just can’t afford the high cost of dating. Also, I guess as testosterone levels go down, they just don’t feel dating is worth the effort.”

Tom’s comment: A declining interest in dating by older men can make the ratio of single women compared to single men even greater than statistics indicate it to be. To women, some of those men might be perceived as non-relationship material.

Randy concluded: “What I suggest to the ladies: invite your friend of interest over for a home-cooked dinner. Bachelors get tired of eating out. If a first date, include another couple for safety which should also keep the conversation going.”

Randy’s email and advice reminded me of a photo I took from a bus, in Edinburgh, Scotland, last September. It’s not a romantic waterfall, or a romantic walk on the beach, but a simple, warm message that reminds us to treat everybody with dignity and respect, even if they aren’t going to become a mate:

Love All, Serve All @ the HardRock Cafe in Edinburgh. Among all of the history in this incredible city, the message above the windows touched Greta and me the most.                                                    Photo by Tom Blake