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Romance scams costing elderly people hundreds of dollars



Little Rock, Arkansas – The Federal Trade Commission estimates that over 70,000 romantic scams were reported in 2022, resulting in financial losses of up to $1.3 billion.

Senior Medicare Patrol’s program director, Kathleen Pursell, said she learns about these scams every day.

“They are in love with this person,” said Pursell. “Ultimately end up asking for money of some type so that they can get together and meet or it is some kind of medical emergency. They need some kind of procedure done and they need money for that and so these people just fall victim because they think that they are in love with this person but they are a scammer.”

According to Pursell, relatives are at their wits’ end trying to reach their loved ones.

According to Peter Tibbetts, his mother and he experienced the same thing.

“She sent him $60,000,” said Tibbetts. “She sent him $10,000 cash, took out a loan for another $10,000 cash, sent him another $40,000 cash, and then I caught on to it.”

Since then, according to Pursell, his mother has been the target of further con artists who demand money.

A year and a half ago, he claimed, his father passed away.

She has begun to make friends in the senior living community where he and his family have placed her, but not even they can persuade her that she is the victim of fraud.

“We talked to the doctor and they have all said she has a clear mind she is just lonely,” said Tibbetts. “Before I stopped talking to her she said she was going to get married and do all of this other stuff and I said ‘Mom, you are going to ruin my father’s pension that he left for you’. If you get remarried, you lose it. It is sad she is going to ruin her life, she is already pushing family away.”

Rebecca Ward, a clinical social worker, claimed that after her husband passed away, she too became a victim of romance fraud.

She claimed that con artists are adept at filling the void in your life.

“They are taken in by the very adept way these guys hone in on if these women need attention, someone, to share their struggles with,” said Ward.

According to Ward, the finest thing a family can do for a loved one is to make every effort to be there for them.

“They need to realize that too much isolation is going to make them vulnerable so I think families need to step up a little bit and call more often, stop by more often, or maybe find some activities that they can do,” said Ward. “Scammers are able to be successful because there is that void and no one is there to fill it. They swoop right in and sometimes they are successful, unfortunately.”

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