Elderly Fraud Scams: Why they happen and what to watch out for
Elderly fraud scams are on the rise. Research shows that about 5 percent of the elderly population suffer from some sort of scam every year. That works out to be two to three million people. Why are the elderly so susceptible to scams?
Con Artists and Elderly Fraud Scams
The elderly are easy prey to unscrupulous con artists for five simple reasons.
- Loneliness. Elderly people are often lonely, especially if they have lost their spouse. This makes it easy for con artists to step in and pretend to offer friendship and caring.
- Ready money. After a lifetime of work, many seniors have managed to save up a tidy sum towards their retirement. This is exactly what con artists are looking for.
- Trusting nature. Elderly people grew up in a world that was trusting and polite. Con artists know that these people most probably won’t cut them short. They’ll listen for long enough to build up a relationship. This makes the next step — taking their money — easy.
- Reluctance to report. The elderly are less likely than their younger counterparts to report fraud. Admitting to being scammed is embarrassing especially because it puts in question their ability to make sound financial decisions. They are afraid that if they can’t take charge of their finances, their children may take over.
- Poor memory. As we age, our memory weakens. The elderly may be suffering from memory lapses or dementia. These conditions make it harder to present the details needed to investigators.
Five common scams targeting seniors
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the top 10 scams targeting seniors include the following:
1.Medicare. Con artists sometimes pose as Medicare representatives to get seniors to give them their personal information, such as their Medicare identification number. The con artist can then use this information to bill Medicare for fraudulent services and pocket the money.
2.Counterfeit prescription drugs. Seniors are searching the internet for cheaper prices for their medications. Con artists capitalize on this and set up websites that advertise cheap prescription drugs which are usually counterfeit. These counterfeit drugs don’t work. In fact, they endanger the lives of the people using them.
3.Funerals. Con artists scan obituaries to find out information about the deceased. Then they contact family members and tell them that the person who died left an outstanding debt that must be paid immediately.
4.Anti-aging products. Every one wants to look young today. Elderly people are willing to buy products that conceal their age. Con artists advertise products that are worthless and in some cases even harmful.
9.Lotteries. Con artists contact elderly people and tell them that they have won a prize, but must pay taxes on the prize before the money can be paid out. The con artists may even send a fake check to the victim. The victim then wires the money to the con artist. When the bank cannot clear the check, the victim realizes that he was conned.
10.The grandparent scam. The con artist calls the elderly person and claims to be a grandchild. He tells them that he needs some money and asks the grandparent to send this to him. Then he asks the grandparent not to tell his parents what has happened.