As if divorce wasn’t bad enough, the FBI warns the most common targets of dating scams are divorced women over 40. Women are courted online, and after weeks of intimacy, money is missing. This post contains a few post-divorce tips to protect yourself
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
According to an Atlantic magazine article, scams are abundant, and Derek Alldred seems to have scammed at least a dozen women out of about $1 million since 2010.
He used different names and occupations, but the identities he took on always had an element of financial prestige or manly valor: decorated veteran, surgeon, air marshal, investment banker.
Con artists have long known that a uniform bolsters an illusion, and Derek was fond of dressing up in scrubs and military fatigues. He tended to look for women in their 40s or 50s, preferably divorced, preferably with a couple of kids and a dog or two.
The age of the internet, with its infinitude of strangers and swiftly evolving social mores, has also been good for con men. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, which tracks internet-facilitated criminal activity, received nearly 300,000 complaints in 2016.
Of those scams, more than 14,500 were for relationship fraud, a number that has more than doubled since 2011.
I’ve written about practical tips after your divorce before. Consider that once the lawyers, are gone, who is there to guide you on the many questions? There are some immediate steps to take to ensure your hard-fought interests are protected – and your financial documents reflect your new marital status.
Once your divorce is final – meaning a final judgment is entered – you should review and revise, if necessary, the following legal and estate planning documents:
- Powers of Attorney (property, healthcare, HIPAA, etc.)
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
What can happen if you don’t?
One example is common. If your ex-spouse remains the beneficiary of your life insurance policy and you pass away, the proceeds will go to your ex-spouse instead your children.
The opposite can also be true. In Florida, the plain language of the documents controls. To the extent your or your former spouse claimed a right to remain as the beneficiary under a life insurance policy – as a condition of the dissolution of marriage – your rights can be waived.
The FBI warns that in many scams, women are courted online by men who claim to be deployed in Afghanistan or tending an offshore oil rig in Qatar. After weeks or months of intimate emails, texts, and phone calls, the putative boyfriend will urgently need money to replace a broken laptop or buy a plane ticket home.
According to the Justice Department, only 15% of fraud victims report the crimes to law enforcement, largely due to shame, guilt, embarrassment, and disbelief:
You feel really crappy about yourself,” Missi told me, then slipped into a tone that sounded like the mean voice that lives inside her head: “I’m a stupid woman; I’m a dumb, dumb, dumbass.
One excellent way to dispel yourself of any con-man fantasies, however, is to spend some time with the people they’ve hurt. Their victims are negotiating ruined credit scores and calls from collection agencies.
Several were so flattened by the experience, they’ve had old medical problems flare up or have struggled to go back to work.
The Atlantic magazine article is here.