Sadly, elder abuse and financial exploitation continue to be growing problems in the United States. During tax season, there tends to be an uptick in elder financial abuse and fraud scams. Below is a list of common scams targeting seniors.
• Telemarketing, phone, and email scams
Many scams are perpetrated over the phone. Con artists prey on older adults by claiming to represent a legitimate entity like the IRS, Medicare, a charity, a lottery, or by impersonating the victim’s own grandchildren. The caller will use fear tactics or the promise of prize money to get the victim to send money or to give up personal information. These same scams can also be committed over the internet through email, websites, or social media.
• Investment schemes
Phony investment schemes are often presented to seniors with guarantees of great returns on their investment. These scams may even boast celebrity endorsements to further create the appearance of credibility.
• Lonely hearts scam
Many older adults are widows or widowers and may suffer from loneliness. In these cases, beware of new “friends” in person or over the internet offering love and companionship. These scammers gain the victim’s trust and then steal money, identity, or property before disappearing.
• Computer virus tactic
This scheme involves a con artist calling or emailing a victim to notify the person of a harmful virus on his or her personal computer. The criminal will attempt to gain remote access to the individual’s computer and steal personal and financial information which is then used to commit fraud.
• Counterfeit prescription drugs or beauty treatments
Seniors may go online looking for better deals on medications or anti-aging products and inadvertently purchase counterfeit or fraudulent products. It may take some time for the victim to realize they have been duped and by that time the scammer has disappeared. These scams not only hurt a victim’s wallet, but are potentially dangerous to their health.
If you suspect that you or a loved one have fallen victim to a financial fraud scheme, do not hesitate to report the incident to local law enforcement. More information about frauds, scams, and the “Fraud Watch Helpline” may be found at AARP.com.
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