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Elder Scams You Should Know About

Elder Fraud takes many shapes and sizes as criminal elements seek to take advantage of this vulnerable and growing population. The FBI has prioritized its efforts to address elder fraud and will continue to do so along with our partners.

Since senior citizens are a particularly vulnerable victim group, they are often specific targets of financial fraud crimes because of their life situation and financial position. Seniors are often more polite and trusting, have difficulty saying “no,” may be lonely or spend a great deal of time alone, have diminished physical or mental capacity, less likely to report the crime out of shame, and are financially stable.

Criminals often focus their efforts on the senior demographic to exploit these characteristics, at times using intimidation tactics or threatening violence, and wreaking havoc on their elderly victims’ financial, psychological, and physical well-being.

The fraudsters buy and trade lead lists on the Internet with seniors’ names, phone numbers and other personal information to contact potential victims. Victims of these schemes often lose thousands of dollars or more apiece, which can cause significant harm to elderly victims’ survival.

An important step in avoiding being victimized is educating the population to be more aware of the numerous types of scams targeting the elderly.

Some of these scams include:

  • Technical-Support Scams: Fraudsters make telephone calls and claim to be computer technicians associated with a well-known company or they may use internet pop-up messages to warn about non-existent computer problems. The scammers claim they have detected viruses or hacking attempts on the victim’s computer. They pretend to be “tech support” and ask that the victim give them remote access to his or her computer. Eventually, they diagnose a non-existent problem and ask the victim to pay large sums of money for unnecessary services. Tech Support Scams often use U.S.-based money mules to receive victim payments and transmit proceeds to perpetrators.
  • Romance Scams: Millions of Americans use dating and social networking sites to meet people- many forge successful relationships. But scammers also use these and other internet sites to meet potential victims. They create fake profiles to build online relationships and eventually convince people to send money for some favor or need. An online love interest who asks for money is almost certainly a fraudster. Romance Scams often use U.S.-based money mules to receive victims’ payments and transmit proceeds to perpetrators. Sometimes, perpetrators of Romance Scams convince victims to serve as money mules, receiving illegal proceeds of crime and forwarding those proceeds to perpetrators. For example, Romance Scam victims often are induced to receive goods/payments, such as cell phones procured through fraud, and to forward those payments and goods directly or indirectly to perpetrators.
  • Government Imposter Scams: Government Imposter Scams are aggressive and sophisticated phone scams. Callers claim to be employees of a government agency such as the FBI, the IRS, or the Department of Homeland Security, but are not. They use fake names and nonexistent case numbers. Victims are told they owe money to the government agency, and it must be paid promptly through a wire transfer or a gift card. Victims who refuse to cooperate are threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a driver’s license or social security benefits. No federal, state, or local government agency will call to ask you for money!

If you believe you are a victim of fraud, or know a senior citizen who may be, regardless of financial loss, immediately report the incident to your local FBI field office or law enforcement agency, by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI, online tips.fbi.gov, or through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov.

Posted by on 24 May 2021