How Middle-Aged Women Are Increasingly Falling Victim to Romance Scams

How Middle-Aged Women Are Increasingly Falling Victim to Romance Scams

Romance scammers increasingly use dating apps to exploit lonely individuals, with middle-aged women often becoming their favorite targets.

The recent pandemic saw a real uptick in this scam pattern, with romance fraud stripping $120 million from adults over 50.

This statistic is a significant increase from the $84 million previously reported, and naturally, it’s a very worrying trend.

There are a whole plethora of stories surrounding people over 50 being relieved of huge sums of money, and many lose their life savings.

How Women Are The Prime Victims Of Romance Scammers

A recent poll of romance scam victims – one of the biggest ever conducted — found that women are most likely to be the victims.

What was also quite shocking, was that 75% of these women are college educated and over 10% have graduate degrees.

These are by no means ‘stupid’ women. In fact, on the contrary, many of these female victims are highly intelligent.

This demonstrates just how powerful the psychological techniques a scammer employs against women are.

If intelligent and highly educated women regularly fall for romance scams, it’s not a good indicator for the rest of the population.

Despite many warnings and this subject being on the news frequently, it’s quite depressing how romance scams continue to flourish at a higher rate than ever.

Social Catfish Helps You Find People And Verify Their Real Identity

Sites like Social Catfish have been specifically created to help you detect potential scammers, or indeed verify if who you are chatting to is actually real!

They use a variety of techniques, including name search, reverse image search, username search etc, to find out if that person actually exists.

Where Do The Romance Scammers Usually Come From

Scammers will often (but not always) come from third-world countries, like some African countries, or from certain Eastern European countries, for example.

They may not admit that is where they are from, but investigations show that’s where most scams originate.

Scammers typically claim to be professionals working abroad. They aim to exploit the loneliness of their victims, enabling them to establish a bond quickly.

And of course, by saying they work abroad, they can avoid the victim’s request for a meetup.

The scammer will of course lead the victim on, with the promise of meeting up, just a little bit down the line.

Military Scammers And Middle Aged Women

Many scammers will often claim to be in the military, and this is a particular angle that seems to work very well when targeting middle-aged women.

There’s something about a man in uniform that appeals to a lot of women, and scammers know that very well.

Often the scam is accompanied by images of handsome men in their military uniform, deliberately intended to appeal to these kinds of women.

They will typically claim to be deployed to a country, usually thousands of miles away from the victim’s location. That makes the scam much more difficult to detect.

Why Are The Middle Aged At More Risk Of Romance Scams

The scammers choose middle-aged people primarily for two reasons.

One is they are more than likely to have built up a nest egg of savings (as opposed to a younger victim).

So naturally there is potentially a bigger amount of cash to be plundered from the victim’s account.

Additionally in many cases, older people are often more isolated, and the idea of some handsome person befriending them, could be exactly what they’ve been seeking.

Very often, middle-aged people could be widowed, or perhaps they have no adult children to guide them… and they then become wonderful prey for a scammer.

Many people over 50 (not all of course) are simply not as au fait with the internet and dating apps, as younger people.

And so their ability to detect anything suspicious, or untoward, is much more limited.

The Romance Scammers’ Modus Operandi

The typical romance scammer is clever of course. Their strategies have often been honed from several years of practising, and they know exactly what to tell their victims in order to hook them in.

The first thing a scammer is likely to do, is compliment you on your looks. For someone with low self-esteem, that strategy is very effective.

It will only be weeks usually before the scammer will tell you that they love you.

Sending hearts, and beautiful romantic messages.

So in many ways, it’s understandable that vulnerable people become completely enthralled by this attention.

Often women (and of course men too) are bowled over by the flattery they receive, from these, often younger, people.

How Romance Causes people To Temporarily Lose Their Minds

While not quite the same as meeting someone and falling in love in real life. A virtual romance can cause the same reactions within a person.

The feeling of ‘being in love’ triggers the release of chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and adrenaline in the brain.

These induce feelings of euphoria, bonding, and excitement.

Dopamine stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, our oxytocin increases, and adrenaline causes a racing heart and restlessness.

Simultaneously, levels of the hormone serotonin decrease, leading to obsessive thoughts about the loved one.

This chemical cocktail explains why new love can feel so intense. And believe it or not, this is almost exactly what the online romance victim experiences as well.

Logic Is Playing Catch-Up In A Romance Scam

If the victim stood back and tried to think logically about the situation, they would ask themselves hard questions.

Why is this good-looking individual, who is 30 years younger than me and lives on the other side of the world, even remotely interested in me?

Regrettably, very few victims step back from the situation and look at it logically.

In fact, logic and rationality are usually the first things that go out of the window, when a romance scammer comes knocking.

Not only do victims of romance scams make friends with distant strangers whom they realistically have no prospect of ever meeting; but they also listen to the most bizarre stories and tragically swallow them hook, line and sinker.

Sadly the victims are the last people usually to realize that they are being played.

They honestly believe that this good-looking person on the other side of the world is genuinely interested in them.

The Scammer Ramps It Up

The scammer will inevitably start promising an (imaginary) future together, and so they use a slow build up, enabling them to get into the heads of the victims.

This results in completely convincing the victim that they have met the love of their life over the internet.

At this point, the scammer makes their first move. Usually, something quite benign, like saying they have lost their bank card and can’t pay for their phone bill.

They’ll maybe ask the victim if they could ‘borrow’ $50 to cover the cost. And of course, they always promise to pay it back.

And so the scam progresses.

The excuses and the reasons to borrow money, increase at a pretty rapid rate.

When the scammer detects that their victim will send money, pretty much unquestionably, they will move quickly to extract as much as they can, before their luck runs out.

Tragically in many cases, some women have sent hundreds of thousands to romance scammers and many have even lost the roof over their heads.

How Can Middle-Aged Women Be Protected From Romance Scams

Unfortunately, there isn’t, an easy answer to this. Scammers will always be lurking on the internet and will constantly be looking for victims, particularly on dating apps.

However they will use any online platform to try to wheedle their way into a potential victims life.

What exacerbates the situation, is the reluctance of the victim to even accept the reality of a scam.

This is very common among older female victims.

Even with clear evidence that they are being scammed, many victims will staunchly defend their exploiters.

Often, one of the victim’s grown children must intervene robustly.

So if you know anyone in this situation. Or your friend suddenly gushes about someone they met online, particularly someone who lives in another country, be on the alert.

Ask questions, find out exactly who this mystery suitor is. And use common sense (which the victim may have temporarily lost) to evaluate if this is real, or a potential scam.

Let’s try to put an end to this horrible crime.


  • Jack

    Innovative 54-year-old writer for Life Over 50. Based out of Manchster. Penning the future of fashion & tech for our seasoned readers. Age is just a number, style is timeless.

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