Catfishing: How romance scammers seduce seniors

File photo

Five million seniors are victims of abuse annually. According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans age 60 and up will experience some form of fraud this year.

So what are romance scammers and how are they taking seniors hard-earned money? Here’s how catfishers are seducing America’s seniors and succeeding.

You get them every day, but your next email could be a catfish in disguise. A “catfish” is a term for someone that is pretending to be someone else on the internet. And these bottom feeders are reeling in money made from pensions, mortgages, Social Security, and retirement funds.

How do you recognize a catfish? Be wary of meeting new friends anywhere on the internet, especially if they try to switch to a less-monitored platform like text or phone calls.

Watch out for internet friends who try to become close, but frequently cancel plans and refuse to give a picture.

Be aware of manipulation. They will aim to cut you off from those you trust most.

If you are concerned about a relative, be aware of new people in their life.

Be cautious of caregivers and block solicitation calls and consider arranging limited account oversight for their bank account.

While it’s common to be untrusting of strangers, limited time spent on the internet makes seniors less able to identify abnormal behavior.

If you wouldn’t trust them coming up to you on the street, don’t trust them sliding into your messages either.