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AARP Focusing on Online Dating Fraud

I saw recently that the AARP was starting to get very active working to protect seniors from online dating fraud. Online trust is a big issue, but still, my first thought was"Can this be a big problem? How many senior citizens are using online dating?"

I thought online dating was most popular with college students but Bowling Green State University professors of gerontology, Dr. Wendy K. Watson and Dr. Charlie Stelle, have been researching the landscape since 2013 and found that people over 60 represent the most rapidly growing demographic in online dating. Who knew?

But is it that big of a problem? According to Mark Brooks, founder of Online Personals Watch, only perhaps 1 percent of members on well-established paid sites are scammers. On newer sites, however, the number is probably much higher, as scammers can flood recently launched sites with thousands of real-looking but fake profiles. "Scammers are good for short-term business because they boost activity," he says, "but the site's reputation suffers, so new sites have to go through this learning curve." According to the FBI, Americans lost $82 million to online dating fraud in just the last six months of 2014. Yikes!

AARP has launched the Fraud Watch Network and they don't feel dating sites are doing enough to protect their members. They are sending petitions to the top sites urging them to do more. Non-members and members alike can get Watchdog Alerts, stay up on con artists’ latest tricks, and find out what to do if they've been victimized. It’s free for everyone because AARP is committed to safeguarding Americans’ financial futures.