Scammers often target senior citizens because these older individuals tend to be more vulnerable. Raised in an earlier and more trustworthy time period, elderly people can be taken in by dishonest individuals all too easily. Senior citizens may also have physical ills or mental impairments that cause them to be led down the wrong path by ruthless con artists. Here are three scams commonly aimed at seniors.
The lottery scam is also sometimes known as the sweepstakes scam. With this rip-off technique, unsuspecting seniors are told they’ve won a sweepstakes contest or lottery, and all they need to do to collect the prize money is pay a fee or hand over their credit card numbers. Seniors may be handed a check for the prize, but of course the check will bounce and the criminals will be long gone.
In this scheme, fraudulent telemarketers call elderly individuals and sell them bogus products or services. Trusting elders give their bank account or credit card numbers and the bad guys make off with the money. Three alternate versions of the telemarketing scheme are:
- Charity donations: Con artists get kind-hearted seniors to donate to fake charities.
- Fake accidents: Criminals call elders and tell them their children or grandchildren have been in accidents and need money to pay for the hospital bills.
- Pigeon drop: With this con ploy, crooks tell older adults that a large amount of money has been found and that they will split it with them if the person puts up some good-faith money.
Email Phishing Schemes
Internet thieves can take advantage of people of any age, but ripping off the elderly is especially prevalent. The way this scheme works is that the senior citizen receives an email from what seems to be a legitimate bank or company; in the email, the person is asked to update his account information, which may include credit card and bank numbers, address, social security number, and other private information. Once the unsuspecting person turns over the information by updating the accounts, the criminal can rob bank accounts, charge goods on the credit card, steal identity, and turn the trusting senior’s financial life upside down.
Because elderly people often have substantial assets, such as retirement accounts or paid-off houses or other real estate property, they are especially lucrative prey for scammers. It’s crucial that caregivers and adult children and grandchildren of senior citizens alert them to the dangerous con artists lurking in today’s world. In addition to educating the elderly, the younger generation should keep a close eye on anything fishy occurring with their elders’ financial well-being.