One member of that group, who asked that her identity be withheld, is a recently divorced 51-year-old mother of three who told Fox how she met a man on a popular dating website – but that in a matter of a few days, their online courtship went offline. People who are scamming really prey on people who are vulnerable, and people over 50 are more vulnerable.” The most common online dating frauds are catfishing – someone who uses social media to create false identities to deceive – and other financial scams.
There was a time when online dating carried a negative stigma. “After I cut him off, he wrote me a mean text that no one will want me if I’m stingy with money. He wasn’t looking for love; he was looking to be taken care of financially.” Looking back on the cyber courtship, she admitted she ignored red flags -- like the speed at which her suitor tried to move their relationship. The woman he believed he was in a relationship with did not exist.
Over the years, however, using the Internet to find your future mate has become commonplace. When he confronted the woman, she admitted to stealing a friend’s Facebook pictures and creating a false identity because she did not feel her real persona was attractive enough.
One in ten Americans have used an online dating site or mobile dating app, according to a 2013 PEW Research study, and the largest group searching online for a potential mate are singles 50 and older. Laurie Davis, author of “Love at First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating,” explained why the older population is at greater risk for being scammed.
But unlike tech-savvy 20- and 30-something online daters, the plus-50s are less aware of the perils that lurk on the web. “They are not reading the red flags because they’re not using Facebook and Twitter as a digital lifestyle.
“Frankly, these are the same things that 20-somethings are considering, but 50-somethings haven’t been read the riot act. The problem with the digital age is that you have fake friends/romances.
Know that these scams are out there,” said Saltz, who is a former relationship expert for Our Time.com, the 50 and over singles site. Unless you’re spending significant time with this person in real life, it’s not real.” Out of the 50-and-over demographic, women tend to be more targeted by online dating scammers.A February 2013 FBI press release points to women as the most preyed upon population of online daters. Every day for about a month, they would talk for hours on the phone, constantly exchanging emails and photos. I would never online date again.” Another web dater, who also asked that his identity be withheld, is a 52-year-old single man who told Fox how he clicked with a woman who claimed to be in her final year of medical school.“They try to create a connection with you in the hopes of eventually reaching deep into your bank account.Building a relationship with you is a financial investment for them. They look to fill a void and create an emotional outlet for themselves that doesn't exist or can't be revealed to others in their life,” Davis said. Gail Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, attributed it to lack of digital know-how.