AARP Warns of Online Romance Scams: Sponsors TeleTown Hall
Johnny Lee sang he "was lookin' for love in all the wrong places" in singles bars in the 1980 movie "Urban Cowboy" starring John Travolta.
As tough as it was in singles bars, Travolta's character Bud Davis never could have imagined the grief of logging on to a computer, meeting a cyberfictitious woman and getting scammed for thousands of dollars.
Wyoming AARP wants to help people who are or may become victims of an online romance scam with a call-in TeleTown Hall at 10 a.m. May 22, according to a press release. People can ask questions and share stories. AARP Wyoming will call selected members about 9:55 a.m. If you wish to join cal dial 833-380-0685.
Online romance scam survivor and AARP spokeswoman Kate Kleinert will tell her story, and she now considers herself a warrior in educating others, because not everyone is who they say they are.
The scam works something like this: You post a dating profile and up pops a promising match — good-looking, smart, funny and personable.
Supposed suitors might also reach out on social media. More than a third of people who lost money to a romance scam in 2021 reported it started on Facebook or Instagram, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The potential mate claims to live in another part of the country or to be abroad, but they seem eager to get to know you better, and suggest you move to a private channel like email or a chat app.
Over time, you feel yourself growing closer, make plans to meet in person, but something always comes up.
Then you get an urgent request. An emergency -- medical problem, business crisis -- arises and your online companion needs money fast by gift cards, prepaid debit cards, cryptocurrency, or a bank or wire transfer.
They'll promise to pay it back and keep asking for more until you realize it's a scam and cut them off.
These are among the lies scammers tell when they say they cannot meet in person:
- I’m hurt, sick or in jail.
- I can teach you how to invest your money and get rich like me.
- I’m in the military far away.
- I need help with an important delivery, or to send money.
- We’ve never met, but let’s talk about marriage.
- I’ve come into some money or gold.
- I’m on an oil rig or ship.
- You can trust me with your private pictures.
The AARP and FTC offers these tips to avoid online romance scams:
- Don’t reveal your last name, address, workplace or other personal information. If you talk by phone, turn off your phone’s location settings.
- If you use dating sites or apps, don’t depend on them to protect you. Read the terms of service.
- Don’t send money.
- The individual wants to leave the site immediately and use personal email or instant messaging.
- Professes love too quickly.
- Plans to visit, but cancels at the last minute because of some crisis.
- Asks for money.