The Sweetheart Scam -
Beware of the Sweetheart Scam. Many older adults are falling victim to this scam. In 2013 there were 6,412 reports of sweetheart scams costing victims close to $82 million. Older people are especially at risk for fraud. Americans 65 and up are more likely to be targeted by con artists and more likely to lose money.
Sweetheart scams can happen on the Internet or in person. Con artists scour online dating sites, social media accounts and chat threads searching for targets. Those recently divorced or widowed can be especially vulnerable.
The sweetheart scam seduces victims into thinking they are in a whirlwind romance. Con artists pretend to want a romantic relationship to swindle the person. They use persuasion and emotional blackmail to hook and reel in a target.
Once the relationship is established, the criminal fabricates a crisis. A scammer might say he or she needs an operation or cash to visit the victim. Many victims are often embarrassed to come forward.
This along with other scams may be reported to the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-382-4357, or to file complaint online you may visit
If you feel you are in immediate danger or experienced theft, please contact your local police.
September 18, 2018
NEW YORK — Attorney General Barbara Underwood issued a recent alert to New Yorkers about the “grandparent scam,” a common phone scam that targets senior citizens with calls from fraudsters that pose as a grandchild of the victim.
Underwood also shared a public service announcement that explains how the scam works and offers tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.
“Stealing from seniors by exploiting their love for their grandchildren is despicable,” Underwood said in a press release. “I urge New Yorkers to be on the alert for this scam, and protect yourself and your family by following our tips."
Underwood offers the following tips to protect against the grandparent scam:
Be suspicious of anyone who calls unexpectedly asking you to send money.
Never purchase pre-paid debit cards or gift cards for the purpose of transferring money.
Develop a secret code or "password" with family members that can be used to verify the identity of family members over the phone.
Ask a question that only the real grandchild would know the answer to, such as, “What was the name of your first pet?”
Verify any supposed emergency by calling friends and family before sending money.
Underwood also shared a public service announcement featuring the “Grandkids Against the Grandparent Scam” initiative, in which high school students are enlisted to warn their parents and grandparents about the scam. The PSA features television personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who shares her experience about almost falling victim to the scam.
In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received 18,912 complaints of individuals impersonating family members and friends, up from 15,076 in 2016, the release said.
New Yorkers who have been targeted by this scam are urged to call the Attorney General's consumer helpline at 1-800-771-7755.