A National Concern
United States Attorney William P. Barr recently stated that crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Because of their stage in life, they don't have the opportunity frequently to recover, and the losses are devastating to them.
Whether as the result of isolation, diminished cognition, financial insecurity, trusting too much, being ashamed to report being scammed or concerned about how relatives will react, serious concern for health or other causes, many of these crimes go unreported. The more we learn about elderly fraud and abuse, the better we are at protecting ourselves, our families and friends, and helping first responders and the FBI succeed in their efforts to counter this type of crime. According to research by the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Investor Education Foundation, those over the age of 65 are more likely to have lost money due to a financial scam than someone in their 40s. To help the elderly avoid becoming victims of fraud scams, it is important to understand why they are targets, what schemes and tactics are commonly used against them and how these schemes affect them.
Most victims who become the targets of fraud scams are in the naïve segments of the population. Unfortunately, elderly individuals are the most frequent targets of fraud scams. Fraudsters target the elderly, as they may be lonely, willing to listen and are more trusting than younger individuals. Many fraud schemes against the elderly are performed over the telephone, door-to-door or through advertisements. The elderly are prime targets to schemes attributed to credit cards, sweepstakes or contests, charities, health products, magazines, home improvements, equity skimming, investments, banking or wire transfers, and insurance. Fraudsters use different tactics to get the elderly to fall victim to their schemes. They can be friendly, sympathetic and willing to help in some cases or use fear tactics in others. The tactic used is generally dependent upon the type of situation the fraudster finds himself in with the elderly person. You can also take steps to protect yourself against financial fraud. For starters, read the news about fraud in your area, and talk with friends and family. The more visibility this fraud gets, the easier it will be to spot. Instinct is also a major defense, if you are online and you are getting a photo, an unrealistic photo, from someone who is professing their love for you in two days, what is your gut telling you? The gut never lies. If you become aware of elder fraud and/or abuse, you are right to be concerned. If you SEE SOMETHING, please SAY SOMETHING in a timely manner to law enforcement, security and/or your supervisor, and give the authorities the chance to make a difference.