An online post recently described how someone’s 63-year-old sister lost everything to a romance scam but still refuses to believe what is happening. Moreover, she expects this invisible Prince Charming to marry her.
She quit her job, maxed out her credit cards, and divorced her husband — signing the house over to him. After all this, the victim has filed for bankruptcy and is sleeping on her 92-year-old mom’s couch.
To make matters worse, any social security is going to her “boyfriend,” whom she has never met in person — only via email and telephone. So what can a family do in this case? The question attracted advice from many concerned observers.
1. Protect Your Mom!
Knowing there was a vulnerable 92-year-old lady now in the equation caused alarm, and lots of comments revolved around making sure she understood the risk her daughter presented. Many people were concerned that the woman would inevitably steal from her mother.
2. Write This off as a Lost Cause
Sadly, the scam’s stranglehold has erased any common sense she may have had before. It is hard to see loved ones go through these behavior patterns, and many commentators shared the opinion that sometimes you have to let go.
3. Seek Mental Health Advice
It is hard to ignore that this is a glaring mental health problem, and the notion was not lost on commentators. Suggestions that the sister sees a therapist was discussed, though this may be a moot point with the sister unwilling to listen.
4. Put the Sister Under a Conservatorship
Britney Spears made conservatorships famous with her father and lawyer taking control of her financial and personal decision-making. In this story, the sister’s self-destructive and potentially dangerous behavior means having legal control over her actions could be the last straw.
5. Emotional Scams are Highly Nuanced
The human brain is susceptible to manipulation without even realizing it, and we can never know how we will react to having our heartstrings pulled. Some viewers discussed how these scams are down to a science now, with scamming experts weeding out sad or lonely people online.
6. Romance Scam Victims Live in Denial
Does love kill all rationality? Many people suggested denial as a self-defense mechanism to avoid embarrassment and reality. Of course, rejecting hard facts is also a symptom of those in love.
7. The Nigerian Romance Scam Question
The Nigerian prince scam came to an inbox near you sometime in the past twenty years. For those unaware, this is an email scam in which a ‘prince’ or ‘princess’ needs to escape their country’s persecution. All you need to do is send them your bank details for them to move their wealth out of the country.
8. Reverse Image Searching May Help
Reverse image search is a tool to help you determine a photo’s origin and whether the picture belongs to someone else. This seems like a plausible way to show the lovesick victim that the images were lifted from another random social media account — as is usually the case.
9. Show Me the Catfish!
MTV’s Catfish has been on the air for decades, so if the story writer can sit the sister down for one episode, this may help. In addition, Netflix released a powerful documentary, The Tinder Swindler, that exposes anything from Tinder dates to full-on romance scams like this.
10. Lock Down Those Assets
Several readers recommended a trust attorney, who can become the legal executor of anyone’s estate. If family members fall victim to a financial scam, the advice is to put all inheritance in your name. Then, if a parent passes away, any inherited wealth is protected from scammers.