|SENIOR CITIZEN FRAUD
How to Protect Yourself
A Canadian couple is arrested for allegedly bilking victims across the U.S. by selling bogus credit card protection plans over the phone.
A Maryland financial planning/estate lawyer pleads guilty to defrauding his own clients.
What's the common thread here? All of the victims were elderly, and many lost their life savings.
Why are the elderly such an attractive target for con artists?
The threat to seniors is growing…and changing. Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are now the largest segment of our population—about 78 million people. That means that the number of senior citizens is rising. Many younger boomers also have considerable computer skills, so criminals are modifying their targeting techniques—using not only traditional telephone calls and mass mailings but also online scams like phishing and e-mail spamming.
Another trend: Criminals targeting the elderly are increasingly located outside the U.S., making it difficult for American law enforcement to track them down.
The scams. Some common ones to look out for:
Recovery schemes are also worth mentioning because they're especially cold-hearted: they target previous victims by convincing them that their money has been recovered by law enforcement or government officials but that they must pay a fee to get it back.
A few basic tips to avoid being victimized:
Who to call. If you’re a senior citizen who has been victimized by fraud, start by calling your local or state law enforcement agency.
The FBI doesn’t handle isolated individual cases: we get involved only when there are huge dollar losses or if there's evidence of an international crime ring at work. But you can report fraud online to us through our Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is run in concert with the National White Collar Crime Center, and we’ll refer it to the proper authorities.
See our common frauds webpage for seniors for more details on the scams and prevention tips.