It’s that time of year again! Love, romance, loneliness, and isolation run rampant in February. Valentine’s Day is coming up fast, which can be an especially lonely time for folks of all ages who are single.
In times of strong expectations and strong emotions, vulnerability is heightened. While loving relationships are possible at all ages, so are exploitative relationships.
This year’s Love Scam is an old classic: Gold Diggers. They come for your heart and stay for your cash…or leave with your cash. Learn how to spot a new love interest who is up to no good and save yourself or a loved one a whole lot of heartbreak and trouble.
Loneliness is one of the cruelest vulnerabilities con artists prey on when it comes to choosing their next target. Love scams break hearts along with breaking banks. Combine the exaggerated emphasis on love, companionship, and relationships that come with the season, throw in a bit of loneliness and isolation that comes, and add technological illiteracy to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for a classic con: Gold digging.
Older individuals who are well off, single, and – most importantly – lonely, are the targets of this scam. Gold diggers meet their victims in person through social gatherings, events, and public spaces like bars, through social media, through dating sites, and sometimes even as a caretaker.
Not every person your elderly friend or parent sparks a relationship with is out to pull one over on them, but there are some warning signs to look out for, whether it’s for yourself, for Mom or Dad or other relative, or for a friend that could save them a lot of trouble.
Ambiguity is a big red flag. At this point in maturity, relationships are very honest and open when it comes to the lives, histories, families, and responsibilities of each party because with a life fully lived comes a lot at stake. If a new love interest is vague, stories don’t add up, or important information is glossed over or disclosed later on or in a way that seems suspiciously strategic, be on the lookout.
Age difference is a classic red flag. This doesn’t mean that every relationship with a significant age difference is predatory, and this definitely doesn’t mean that exploitation never happens between peers, but if there is a significant age difference – especially if they met online – keep an eye out for trouble.
If the relationship is moving too fast, this is another big red flag that there’s trouble afoot. There are many reasons elderly lovers would not want to live alone, but moving in a new romance within the first few months is sketchy. Over commitment, early on is another indicator that there may be something more than the heat of passion going on. Marriage, opening joint bank accounts, making large purchases or going into debt together, and other measures that grant the new love interest the right to power of attorney and other privileges regarding your loved one’s finances, are actions that require a deep level of trust. Rushing into these decisions is a big red flag, especially if the new love interest has an ambiguous past and stories that don’t add up.
Isolation is another red flag that there’s some level of exploitation or abuse going on. Are you seeing less of your parent, relative, or friend? Do they not answer their phone or call as often? Is their home less open to guests? Have you expressed doubts about their new relationship and now they’ve significantly faded from your life? While a new relationship means readjustment and reallocation of time, this shouldn’t cause other relationships to suffer.
If you suspect a parent, relative, or loved one has fallen victim to a gold digger, the best thing you can do is to maintain a supportive presence in their life. Make an effort to reach out and spend time with them. Offer your view of the situation when appropriate without undermining their feelings or agency. You can also talk to a private investigator who can look into the new love’s life – past and present – to be sure that there’s no pattern of exploitation and abuse going on. There’s nothing romantic about a con artist making off with your cash and your heart.
For more than three decades Jean Mignolet has served in law enforcement and private investigation, managing all aspects of general investigative business. She specializes in in-depth background investigations, and is the top choice of attorneys, corporations, small business owners and individuals who require all types of investigative services.