When Love Hurts: AARP Cracks Down on Romance Scams
The association is asking online dating sites to help better protect their users from internet fraud by doing more to detect romance scammers.
It wasn’t that long ago that AARP entered into the dating game when it launched a free Dating Boot Camp to help its members find love.
Now, the association is tackling the dark side of searching for companionship online: romance scams. Last week, AARP started an online petition asking the online dating industry to create new safety measures to better protect users.
As part of AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, the petition will be delivered to sites such as Match.com, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish asking them to make use of algorithms designed to detect suspicious language patterns scammers use as well as conduct image searches for fake profiles.
“The sites don’t yet do enough to protect their members from known scammers,” AARP Illinois Communications Manager Gerardo Cárdenas said in a statement. “Our petition asks the companies to take commonsense steps to help put a stop to the scammers’ abilities to prey on the unsuspecting.”
People searching for love online were the most common victims of internet fraud in the United States last year, according to the FBI’s “2014 Internet Crime Report” [PDF]. Women 40 and older were the hardest hit, reporting close to $70 million in losses due to romance scams.
“Criminals search dating websites, chat rooms, and social media websites for personally identifiable information, and use well-rehearsed scripts to attract potential victims,” the report noted. “The criminals present convincing scenarios involving family tragedies, severe life circumstances, and other hardships in an attempt to solicit money.”
On a list of tips for spotting romance scammers, AARP advises users of dating sites to exercise caution if someone they meet asks for money, plans to visit but cancels at the last minute, or claims to be from the United States but says he or she is out of the country for business reasons.
The association also provides tips on how to verify that people using online dating sites are real.