Elderly fraud is on the rise. Seniors continue to be an increasing segment targeted by con artists. It is important now more than ever to do your research to make sure you are donating to a cause you care about and getting the services you paid for. Here are some common red flags to look for and tips to ensure you avoid scammers.
The Nigerian Scam
Nigerian scams (one of the oldest) will arrive through an email from someone overseas, perhaps a member of royalty, wanting to send you a large sum of money. They will mention that they cannot access it because of their country’s government restrictions but if you help them access their money, you will be paid a percentage. You will be asked to pay for transaction or transfer costs before you get paid, while asking for your bank account information as well. They may even send papers that look authentic but in the end you will be out your money and they will have long disappeared.
These scammers typically troll the Internet for victims, and slowly over time will try to build a relationship to gain your trust. They are clever and deceptive and will create other stories besides the royal story. They may say they are in some sort of trouble, from detention to extortion or hospitalization.
To avoid these scams keep an eye out for red flags such as poor grammar and mention of a bank, government agency or other organization that requires fees to be paid before you can receive your portion.
The scammer may claim to be in Nigeria and ask that the money for the fees be sent to another country. Or they may say they are in a third country but want the funds sent to Nigeria.
They may claim to be contacting you from a U.S. Embassy, where your partner, business associate, or friend is being detained until payment is received. Please note that U.S. embassies do not detain people.
Before you start online dating, be aware of romantic scammers who will try and turn you into a money mule. The scammers starts by registering with an online dating site using a fake profile and picture. They will profess their love for you very early on and lure you off the dating site. Once your trust is earned, they will convince you to send money for various reasons including a plane ticket to visit you or pay for some bad situation they find themselves in such as paying off a gambling debt.
They may convince you to open a bank account so they can start sending or receiving money. The account is then used to funnel money from illegal activities. If a bank determines suspicious activity, it will be flagged and closed.
These scammers may mention they work on an oil rig, in the miliary or a doctor with an international organization. They will ask for money via wire transfers, gift cards or reload cards knowing these transactions are almost impossible to reverse.
You can avoid these scammers by doing a reverse photo image search to see where the profile picture may have been used elsewhere. Do a search for the type of job the person has such as ‘oil rig scammer’ to see if other people have heard similar stories.
Health Care Scams
Healthcare fraud targets elderly people since they generally need more treatment and medication than other age groups. A nursing home staff member or a home health aid may also try and commit this type of fraud. Watch out for these following signs:
Fraud in the Family
Older people who feel less confident about their money management skills due to failing health or memory loss could welcome the attention of a person who exploits them. They may not have immediate family living nearby and may not have a close relationship with them. Here are some signs that someone may be financially taken advantage of:
It’s important to respect your older loved ones’ right to make their own decisions as long as they are cognitively able. Keep the lines of communication open and perhaps bring up the topic of financial exploitation so they are aware of possible financial theft.