Due to my father's browser sloppiness, and in spite of my efforts to NOT see what he's doing, I know he is on dating sites talking to women. I was fixing something for him when a chat window popped up, which I minimized right away without looking at it, but I saw enough to know it was sexually suggestive, and when I typed to search for something in his search bar the first things that came up after one or two letters was the name of a dating site.

He is 75 years old and in declining health, and he looks after my mother who is no longer able to care for herself, so I chalk this up to just fantasy and it's none of my business. He spends most of his free time on the computer, apparently just playing solitaire, but I'm pretty sure that's just what he wants me to see.

Also, he recently tried to sell something on Craigslist and was taken for $2000 in a certified check scam.

So all of this leaves me worried he may be vulnerable to being catfished, and could lose catastrophic sums of money (they have modest retirement savings.)

How to warn him about this without embarrassing him, or making it look like I'm judging him or that I snooped? (I didn't!!)

2 Answers 2


This is one of those issues that, in my experience, is easiest if you talk adjacent to the actual topic.

For example, sometimes people simply don't know one way or another about something that they're doing wrong. These are the easiest times to correct them because they aren't attached to their wrong ideas- it's just a coincidence. When I saw that my father was getting viruses on his computer, it was easy enough to tell him the following:

Me: Oh man, I saw this crazy story online the other day
Him: Oh, what about?
Me: Apparently something like 70% of people above 60 have fallen for an email scam, but if they do [xyz] it drops to 5%
Him: clearly thinking Oh, interesting...

For your situation, I suspect you don't even really need to address his actual habits- just some generalized gossip surrounding the dangers of online catfishing, scams, etc. and maybe relating it indirectly to his past missteps would be sufficient for anyone with their wits about them to make the connection.

If his "declining health" includes things like declining mental health as well, it may be worthwhile to take a more direct approach. In that case you can take the method that I've advised, check his reaction, and then directly state that if he was doing anything like that he should probably knock it off. Wink wink, nudge nudge, whatever you need to make it clear what you're saying without saying it.

Best of luck. :)


How do warn him about this without embarrassing him, or making it look like I'm judging him or that I snooped? (I didn't!!)

You better do not reveal to him about your knowledge of this matter. It could be just your perspective.

You can present the concern/scenario only (not the solution with step by step protection or caution) to him as a perspective of someone else. So you may tell him a story that you just learned that one of your friend's father has been a victim of such scam and lost a huge money/property in the recent past. Here you can mention dating sites, craigslist incidents, and other points (shall look like similar but not the same) and summarize lessons to be learned. This shall make him think/resemble his situation and he may pick up the hint to be cautious about his dealing with such sites/offers.

No backup in case of fraud happened on dating site but many times I have put the precaution steps to my colleagues using the story perspective without directly putting them in the awkward situations of my being knowledge of their situation. Here, Duke Leto has limitations that he does not want to make his father embarrassed by stepping on to dating site/craigslist activities and therefore the 3rd party perspective shall be the best solution.


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