Elder Fraud and Scam Alerts
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that in 2020, senior citizens were scammed for approximately 1 billion dollars. “A total of 105,301 people over the age of 65 were scammed, with an average loss of $9,175, and almost 2,000 older Americans lost more than $100,000.” Texas, Florida, and California had the highest number of elder fraud and scam cases. However, fraud and scams can occur in any state and to people at any age. Unfortunately, the elderly are more often targeted because they are considered vulnerable. The emotional and financial effects are devastating, and the only real prevention is knowledge. We have complied a list of scam alerts, information, and resources to help you stay ahead of the scammers.
Elder Fraud and Financial Exploitation
Scams and fraud are basically ways to exploit money from people. Project SAFE, a government agency in Maryland, defines elderly financial exploitation as, “wrongfully taking or using an older adult’s funds or property through theft, scams, fraud, or predatory lending.”
Scam Alerts & Fraud
Catfishing Scam / Romance Scam
Catfishing is when someone steals from a person that they’ve ‘met’ online. Today, many seniors turn to online services and social media to make romantic or friendly connections. Criminals pose as interested romantic partners to capitalize on their elderly victims’ desire to find companions. The perpetrator is just someone on the web waiting to prey on elderly individuals who are lonely. These scammers may endear themselves to the elderly person then ask them for money because of an emergency.
Tech Support Scam
Criminals call and pose as technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues. The scammers gain remote access to victims’ devices and sensitive information. If they do not gain access, they pretend they do and diagnose a non-existent problem and ask the victim to pay large sums of money
Criminals pose as a relative, typically a child or grandchild and claiming to be in immediate danger and financial need.
Government Impersonation Scam
Criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.
Social Security Administration or IRS Impostor Scam
Social Security Administration imposters contact prospective victims by telephone and falsely claim that the victim’s Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it has been involved in a crime. They ask to confirm the victim’s Social Security number, or they may say they need to withdraw money from the victim’s bank and to store it on gift cards or in other unusual ways for “safekeeping.”
IRS Imposter Scams are aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS, and it must be paid promptly through a wire transfer or stored value card such as a gift card.
Sweepstakes, Charity, or Lottery Scam
Criminals claim to work for legitimate charitable organizations to gain victims’ trust. Or they claim their targets have won a foreign lottery or sweepstake, which they can collect and only need to pay fees for shipping, insurance, customs duties, or taxes before they can claim their prizes.
Home Repair Scam
Criminals appear in person and charge homeowners in advance for home improvement services that they never provide.
There are so many people taking advantage of a worldwide crisis.
The top COVID scams are:
- You are asked to pay for your vaccine
- You are told to pay to have the vaccine shipped to you
- You are told to pay a fee and put your name on a waiting list for early access to the vaccine
- Emails, text messages and phone calls from fake vaccine centers and insurance companies
- Online ads for vaccine doses from unofficial sources
- You are told you must take additional tests before you get a vaccine
- You are offered to schedule appointments through unverified platforms
The Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force is part of the United States Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative. The mission of the Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s older adults.
The Maryland Department of Aging (MDoA) and the statewide network of 19 Area Agencies on Aging assist older Marylanders with a range of services and sources of information. Elder Financial Exploitation, Scams and Fraud Prevention provides information about the financial exploitation of older and vulnerable adults, including how to educate seniors and caregivers about financial abuse prevention.
Project SAFE (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) is part of the Maryland’s Department of Human Services which assists vulnerable Marylanders. Project SAFE is an informal public/private coalition of 16 different organizations that share a common goal of preventing and remedying financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Project SAFE has offered training to the financial and law enforcement communities on how to detect and report financial exploitation. Project SAFE also educates older Marylanders on how to avoid financial exploitation.
If you or a loved one may have been a victim elderly financial exploitation, contact your local FBI field office. If you or someone else have been a victim of an internet crime, contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
Include as many of the following details as possible when reporting a scam:
- Names of the scammer and/or company
- Dates of contact
- Methods of communication
- Phone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, and websites used by the perpetrator
- Methods of payment
- Where you sent funds, including wire transfers and prepaid cards (provide financial institution names, account names, and account numbers)
- Descriptions of your interactions with the scammer and the instructions you were given
You are also encouraged to keep original documentation, emails, faxes, and logs of all communications.