Romance scams ramping up, older folks found to be more at-risk

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — More people turned to online dating during the pandemic, and experts say they are seeing more romance scams because of it.

According to the Better Business Bureau’s 2020 risk report, romance scams were rated the sixth riskiest scam.

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In a romance scam, the scammer will form a connection with someone, building trust through messages on dating apps or websites. Then once the bond deepens, they will start to ask for things.

“Usually it’s money, or even your personal information because stealing your identity is also very helpful for their from their side,” said Roseann Freitas with the Better Business Bureau.

Freitas said scammers are targeting people of all ages, but found folks 55 and older are more at-risk for this type of scam. For people between age 55 to 64, it was the number one riskiest scam for them.

“Loneliness is really what drives a lot of it. It’s not so much they have the money which they probably do, but it’s more that they, they need and they crave that personal interaction with someone else.”

Roseann Freitas, Better Business Bureau

However, she said people should always watch out for red flags such as if the person refuses to meet in-person or over video call, if they have a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes in messages, and if they ask for any amount of money.

Freitas said don’t be afraid to ask them hard questions.

“A lot of times they say they’re from Hawaii, but some things don’t make sense, start to ask questions do they really know about Hawaii? And if they’re from somewhere else, really be skeptical, why would they all of a sudden want to start a relationship with someone that’s so far away?,” said Freitas. “We always have to have our guard up a bit, on any online platform, just to make sure some things make sense.”

She said there are also other ways you can check to see if the person you are romancing is legitimate, like checking their photo.

“There are ways you can check to see if that picture has been used elsewhere on the internet. So you can do an image search on Google and see if it pops up somewhere else, and you may find that this picture belongs to somebody else,” said Freitas.

If someone suspects that they or a family member is a part of a romance scam, the Better Business Bureau said they should contact police or the FBI.

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