California’s seniors lost an estimated $10.9 billion to fraud in 2020
Katsumi Iwasaki of San Francisco, who was bilked out of his $400,000 retirement savings in a romance scam, poses for a portrait inside his home on April 13, 2022, in San Francisco. - Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group/TNS

The relationship started on an online dating site. Katsumi Iwasaki was enthralled by a person who claimed to be a US soldier stationed in Damascus, Syria. They quickly fell to emailing “sweet things,” Iwasaki said. The 81-year-old San Francisco man had been living alone after his partner of 22 years died of lung cancer, and the budding relationship “made me feel like I had a bright future.” After a few months of corresponding in late 2016, the person, who said his name was “James Lopez,” mentioned the gold — $1 million worth. Lopez needed money to ship a cache from Syria to San Francisco for s...