According to reports and statistics, at least one in every eighteen cognitively intact senior citizens of the US fall victim of financial fraud and scams annually. This is roughly 5.4% of the country’s senior citizens.
A 2015 report puts the estimate of the money lost by senior citizens to financial fraud and scams at $36.5 billion each year.
With the number of senior citizens impacted by financial fraud and scams rising in leaps and bounds with each passing day, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing the research works of Mark Lachs, has stated, that ‘abused seniors die at a rate three times faster and are four times more likely to go into nursing homes than those who haven’t been abused.’ This means that they forfeit their life savings, cars, homes and their health starts deteriorating faster. The sad reality is that these financial frauds and scams are being perpetrated by both close relatives and strangers.
Over time, there has been upgraded lists of various financial fraud and scams tactics commonly employed by scammers to swindle their victims. These tactics will be discussed in detail and include:
IRS and Tax Scams
These scam tactics rank as the highest and most prevalent. These scammers impersonate IRS agents in a bid to deceive taxpayers into paying large sums of money. They make use of emails, unsolicited calls, and texts to request information relating to victims’ financial accounts. Sometimes they appear in person and threaten victims with jail terms, deportation or fines if the victims fail to cooperate.
Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams
So many senior citizens have fallen for this scam. They are contacted and informed that they’ve won sweepstake or lottery prizes and are required to pay certain fees in advance to free up the prize.
This is another type of scam that is prevalent in the US. Fraudulent telemarketers impersonate persons of authority to swindle victims by requesting their personal and financial information.
Sometimes telemarketers inform victims that they’ve won a trip or prize and need to send some advance taxes or fees to claim it. The victim might also be asked to share certain financial information. This type of scam is relatively successful because there is no form of physical meeting.
Online Dating Scam
Online dating scam is fast becoming popular and gaining ground. Knowing fully well that we are in technologically advanced age, scammers take advantage of several social media outlets such as Facebook, Snapchat, dating sites and so on to perpetrate financial fraud and scams. They create fake profiles and forge relationships with their victims, swindling the victims of large sums of money in the process.
Scammers sometimes act as members of US military to engage in online dating with victims, earning their trust and requesting money from them in the long run.
Scam Targets Seniors to Unknowingly Transport Drugs Internationally
Scammers reach out to senior citizens offering them luxurious overseas vacations. But they are unknowingly used to transport drugs internationally. The victims are promised several juicy packages to do this. When these victims are caught, they risk arrest and detention.
Tech Support Scams
One of the fastest rising scams in the US is the Tech Support Scam. The scammer pretends to be a representative of tech firms like Apple, Amazon or Microsoft. They deceive their victims by telling them that there is a problem with their computer and take advantage of their concerns. They try to gain remote access to their victims’ computers, steal sensitive personal information or change the settings on the computers leaving it vulnerable to further fraudulent activities.
The Grandparent Scam
Scammers often call, text or email senior citizens tricking the victims into believing that they are family members in trouble or in serious need of help. The scammer subsequently requests financial assistance to get them out of trouble. After scamming victims of their money, they are mostly advised to keep the request confidential and not to tell anyone.
Scammers may pressure senior citizens into taking inappropriate reverse mortgages or loan and using the equity gained from the reverse mortgage to invest in costly annuities, which may not mature until the victims are deceased.
Health Insurance Scams
Senior citizens are highly susceptible to this type of scam. The scammers act as as a Medicare representative and swindle the victim by asking for the payment of certain fees to upgrade their database.
Senior citizens also fall victim of charity scam by making donations to scammers who pretend to be owners of charity establishments or hosts of charity shows.
Counterfeit Prescription Medications and Fake Anti-Aging Products
Senior citizens sometimes fall into the hands of scammers when they attempt to buy prescribed medications at much cheaper prices. These scammers sell counterfeit drugs that can cause damage to the victims’ health.