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How to help protect elderly relatives from romance scams

Learn about the warning signs of romance scams to protect your elderly loved ones from emotional and financial harm.

November 02, 2023

Prevent elderly romance scams

There are many successful stories about people finding love through online dating sites and apps. However, social media and dating apps have also become hot spots for romance scammers over the years. These scams happen when someone believes they have found a good match through an online dating app or site, but the person they might be speaking to could be a scammer using false information and photos. 

While anybody could become a victim of a romance scam, reports by Lloyds Bank show those aged between 65 and 74 were the most likely to be tricked into transferring money to a fraudster pretending to be a romantic partner. The number of such cases within this age group increased by almost 75% year-on-year. 

Scammers often target older adults who may be more vulnerable due to social isolation or loneliness and those with financial assets such as homes or retirement funds, which can be stolen. Romance scams can leave a victim with devastating impact as they have to deal with financial loss and struggle with emotional trauma as well.

Signs of a romance scammer

Elderly woman on a dating site

If your elderly loved one is single, they might feel a need to find companionship by using online sites or apps. You don't have to scare your parent away from dating completely, but it is important to educate them about the existence of scammers who may try to take advantage of them. Scammers often create fake profiles on dating websites and social media platforms, and they can be challenging to catch.

Strategies used by most of the scammers are usually the same. Some common signs that you can talk to your parents about are:

If their personality appears too good to be true

Scammers often portray perfect lives, careers, and personalities to win over their victims. They also use attractive profile pictures to keep their victim interested. If their photographs seem too good to be real, your parent can always search the pictures online to check if the images have been used anywhere else.

They want to move to a different social media platform quickly

Online dating sites have customer care teams that keep monitoring any strange behaviour. If a suspicious or unusual activity is detected, the user is flagged in their system. To avoid being caught by these teams, scammers try to move to a different platform as soon as possible - they might give reasons like chatting on WhatsApp is much easier or logging into the dating app takes a lot of time.

Inconsistent stories

Scammers often talk to a lot of people at one time, and they may forget details about their own lives or contradict themselves in conversations, so rather than overlooking such instances, it's important to pay attention to them and politely cross-question them.

They make the relationship romantic quite quickly

A typical path a romance scammer might take is to declare their love quite early in the relationship, before even meeting in person. They might claim to form a special bond with your elderly loved one that they have never had with anyone before and tell them that they have found their soulmate.

They make excuses for not being able to meet in person

It's always recommended to be cautious of people who always give excuses for not meeting in person, such as working for a client abroad, dealing with a family emergency, or having health issues. They may purposely avoid meeting your parent personally.

They ask for financial help

One of the most notable red flags is when the person your loved one is speaking to starts requesting money, mentioning reasons like financial emergencies, medical bills, or other urgent needs. Remind your elderly loved one never to send anyone money online or click on suspicious links.

Alert your elderly parent about romance scams

Daughter speaking to elderly parent

Talking to an elderly parent about romance scams is important to help protect them from potential financial and emotional harm. However, this could be a sensitive topic to approach with your elderly loved one. Here are some steps you can take to discuss about romance scammers with your parents.

Advise your parents against sharing sensitive information online

It's important to warn your parents about the risks of sharing personal information online. Imposters often use information posted on social media to target possible victims, and the more your parents share, the easier it is for scammers to make a connection with them. Talk to your parents about the consequences of oversharing and emphasise the importance of maintaining privacy and security on social platforms and dating sites.

Stay in touch with your parents

It's important to show interest if your parent talks about a new person in their life. You could ask them about how they found them, whether they've met face-to-face, where the person lives, or what line of work they are in. Make sure to recognise and make your parents aware of any red flags, such as if they met online but haven't met in person yet or if the love interest lives or works overseas.

Remind your parents to refrain from sending money to anyone they have never met in person 

Elderly woman sending money online

If your parents discuss with you about their new partner asking for money from them, don't ignore or get angry with them by implying that they've done something wrong. Instead, calmly help them understand that a scammer might have targeted them by discussing evidence about romance scam red flags with them. They might find it hard to understand or unwilling to let go of their partner, try to be patient with them and point them to relevant resources about romance scams.

What to do if your parents become victims of romance scammers

Report the scam

A romance scam is considered to be a serious crime if your elderly parent has been a victim or if you suspect they are getting involved with a romance scammer, it's important to report it. Convince your parents not to feel ashamed or embarrassed, as they are not alone in this unfortunate situation. Please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via

Comfort and support your parent

The realisation that the person your parent considered to be their soulmate is actually an imposter could be a huge emotional trauma for your parent. Be empathetic about the situation, and don't blame your vulnerable parent for getting involved in a scam. Provide them with emotional support and reassurance without being judgemental.

Secure all financial information

Contact the bank or financial institution immediately to help your parent secure their financial accounts. Also, make sure to change all the passwords of their social platforms and financial accounts. 

Keep records of all conversations with the scammer

Make sure to keep a record of all communication with the scammer, including emails, text messages, and any other form of communication. These records can be helpful evidence for the authorities. Also, make sure to keep a record of all financial transactions related to the scam, such as money transfers, withdrawals, and any other financial arrangements made with the scammer. This information can be helpful for law enforcement and legal authorities to investigate and take necessary action against the scammer.

General tips for avoiding romance scams

Remember that overcoming the financial and emotional trauma of a romance scam could be challenging for your elderly loved one. They might feel really embarrassed and stressed about the situation, so be patient and supportive while they are navigating through this difficult recovery process. If needed, encourage them to get professional guidance to protect their financial and mental well-being.

Another option, especially if your elderly loved one lives alone and don’t always have someone close by, is to use a personal alarm service if they are in the middle of a difficult situation. Personal alarms are useful for a wide range of reasons and can help older people live a safer and more independent life in their own home. They can also bring real peace of mind to loved ones when they can’t be with their older relative or friend, knowing that help is on hand any time it’s needed.

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

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Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure