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 Happy in Brooklyn not dating

 On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – October 4, 2019

by Columnist Tom Blake

                                     Widow Happy in Brooklyn not dating

Champ Michele wrote, “I enjoy reading the On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter on dating, but I don’t participate much because I live in Brooklyn, NY. I have been widowed for 18 years (at age 49) and still miss my husband. I tried online dating but almost got scammed my first time. The few people that contacted me were beyond bizarre. I gave up on that.

“I have been to some dances, but the men seemed to ask the women to dance who were dressed very provocatively and that’s not me. I would leave the dances saying what is wrong with me. It was depressing. No one seems to know anyone. So, I gave up on that.

“Most single functions end up with the women far outnumbering the men. So, if a man, by some remote chance, asks you to dance, he acts like you should be so grateful that he chose you to ask over these other women. It’s like a meat market.

“I enjoy being with my friends and going on vacation. My attitude is, as my mom used to say, ‘If it’s meant to be it will be.’”

My answer to Michele

I’ve been writing about age 50-plus dating for 26 years, since 1994. My first few years’ articles focused on the challenges of dating later in life for both men and women. At that time, the ratio of single women to single men in their early 50s was approximately one-to-one.

As the years passed, that ratio slowly changed. More and more women contacted me, asking “Where are the men?” The single women to single men ratio drew closer to two-to-one for mid-60s people.

Men rarely wrote me. Either they had found somebody or became too inactive to participate in the dating game. Some men, me included, were still looking for a mate.

Some women said the ratio gap was even larger because many single senior men aren’t relationship material. I could see that finding a potential mate was becoming more difficult for women because fewer desirable men were available. But, good guys were and are still out there.

I remember the Dr. Ruth Westheimer response to a woman at an AARP convention who asked her, “Where are the men?” Dr. Ruth said, “The ratio is a fact of life. But, if you have a nice appearance and a positive attitude, and are willing to get out and socialize, you can effectively shrink that ratio.”

And then another phenomenon happened: A thing called the Internet emerged and online dating got its wake-up call. Women were drawn to it because they could reach out beyond their city and local boundaries to find men. A Brooklyn woman, such as Michele, could reach out to all the boroughs of New York City, which are nearby. Potential mates could meet without driving, by using the subways.

   My partner Greta walking the Brooklyn Bridge, from the Manhattan side

It didn’t take long for senior romance scammers to figure out that lots of women online were lonely and vulnerable, especially widows. The romance scammers saw a fertile environment in which to rip off women.

Granted, lots of couples were formed as a result of the Internet but senior romance scams also bloomed. We try to educate the women about the scams.

Now, we find ourselves in our 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s. That ratio has reached almost four-to-one by age 75. Women, such as Michele, share their stories of the lack of men at singles functions. Greta and I see it at our monthly Meet and Greet gatherings in Dana Point.

Saturday night, Greta and I were at the Greek Festival in nearby San Juan Capistrano. One of our woman Champs saw us and introduced herself. She even made the comment about the lack of single men at singles events. I found myself trying to explain the shortage of men to her, as I am to Michele today.

So, what can I say to Michele, who is “Happy in Brooklyn” spending time with her friends and traveling. She has given up on internet dating, singles dances, and singles functions. She is accepting her mom’s advice: “If it’s meant to be, it will be.”

Michele, I say, don’t give up on Senior Romance, keep your eyes open for opportunities to meet a potential mate.

Be assertive, not aggressive. By that I mean if you see a man when you are out and about, and he appeals to you (age close to yours, no wedding ring, no soup on his shirt, combed hair, no odor, no spinach in his teeth), make a friendly comment, such as: “Nice jacket, nice car, nice dog, what’s the dog’s name? Where do you buy your spinach?”

Or, if you see him in the food mart, say: “Is this a good wine?” or, “Is this watermelon ripe?”

In the Post office, “Boy, these lines are long?”

On a cruise ship: “Where’s the dining room?”

At the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles): “How many hours have you been here?”

Anything spontaneous. He may be hoping to meet someone but he’s shy. Be ready to pop the question: “Want to have coffee?” Be ready to pay for the coffee (his and yours). If he’s worth his salt, he’ll offer at the least to go Dutch. Better yet, he’ll offer to pay the tab. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, at least smile and/or even wink. Have a positive attitude.

That’s where we are now, 26 years later.

I hope Michele doesn’t give up on Internet dating but if she does, I understand. Traveling by subway to meet blind dates would be scary now. But local New Yorkers could travel by subway to Brooklyn to see her. As I recall Brooklyn Heights has some nice cafes

There are so many Internet dating sites online I can’t believe it. Everyday, there is a new advertisement in my email inbox. I can’t imagine the ratios are any better on those sites when compared to singles functions.

Continue to get out and enjoy life and your women friends as best you can. But above all, don’t give up on Senior Romance. You are still a young pup and deserve happiness.