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$100,000 — gone in months through ‘sweetheart’ scams

It has been called the “sweetheart scam” or the “romance scam.”

In the case of an Ontario County woman, it was devastating.

“This woman lost $100,000 in three to four months. She had to file for bankruptcy, but she can’t even afford a bankruptcy lawyer,” said Lee Martin, an investigator with the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office. “She is destitute and on the verge of eviction. $100,000 is gone in the course of a few months, and there is nothing I can do to get it back. A scammer with a really good mind can take that away in months.”

Martin, who specializes in elder abuse investigations, was one of several people speaking to senior citizens and their caregivers Thursday at Geneva Country Club during a forum on scams, identity theft and fraud. It was put on by Bank of the Finger Lakes, Lifespan, and the sheriff’s office.

Lifespan, based in Rochester, is an organization that helps older adults and caregivers take on the challenges and opportunities of longer life. Leita King, a social worker, is the organization’s scam prevention coordinator.

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