The wide range of the internet and the increased interconnectivity of our society has led to an increase in financial frauds against the elderly. Older people lose $3 billion each year to financial scams, and more than 3.5 million individuals are impacted. People over the age of 60 are more vulnerable than other populations to scams, and individuals over 80 suffer even higher losses.
These scams can occur in a variety of ways. Sometimes, the elderly person is taken advantage of by a trusted friend or family member. In other situations, financial professionals and medical care providers abuse their position to commit these frauds. In other scenarios, complete strangers come into contact with elderly individuals through the internet or other means to perpetuate scams. While there is no limit to the ways your loved ones may be defrauded, the U.S. Department of Justice has identified several common scams to be on the lookout for.
Common Elder Fraud Scams
Many common scans involve fraudsters pretending to be representatives from federal agencies. For example, in a Social Security Administration imposter scam, victims are contacted via telephone and are convinced their social security numbers have been suspended because of suspicious or criminal activity. Victims will then confirm their social security numbers and even give imposters access to bank accounts, thinking it’s necessary for keeping their finances safe. Imposters use robocalls, caller ID spoofing, and U.S.-based money mules to convince victims of their legitimacy. Callers also use similar techniques to pretend to be the IRS, claiming victims owe substantial sums of money to the agency that they must pay quickly through wire transfers or gift cards. Victims who refuse are threatened with arrest or other official action.
Another similar fraud is conducted by imposters pretending to be tech support agents for well-known companies. These fraudsters pretend to detect computer problems or other such issues that do not exist and ask for large sums of money for “fixing” the problems. In addition, victims will often give remote computer access to the imposters, who can plant harmful software or glean information. This can also include a refund scheme, wherein perpetrators offer refunds then claim too much money was refunded, convincing victims to send the “extra” money through gift cards or other means.
In another common fraud, telemarketers call individuals and pretend they have won the lottery. They tell victims they need to pay fees or taxes to claim their prizes, which victims ultimately do. The victims, of course, never receive the promised prize.
Finally, in romance scams, fraudsters use dating sites or apps to meet elderly people and forge fake relationships. The perpetrators gain the trust of victims then begin to ask for payments for various false expenses and reasons. They also convince victims to become the money mules used in the other scams commonly perpetuated against seniors, and these victims often have no idea the frauds that are occurring.
Texas Elder Law Attorney
If you wish to protect your family members from elder financial abuse, an elder law attorney can help. The Houston attorneys at McCulloch Miller, PLLC are skilled in a wide range of estate planning and elder law topics and can help you draft a plan to protect your aging loved ones from abuse. Call a member of our team today at (713) 903-7879.