Scammers often target elderly victims; they are likely to have money and are often less familiar with technology and thus less safeguarded against potential schemes. Here a few scams targeting senior citizens to be on the lookout for.
The Grandparent Scam
In this scam, a youthful scammer cold-calls an elderly person, calling them “Grandpa” or “Grandma” hoping to get a name. Then, the scammer poses as a grandchild in need of money, often to pay a fine or some other unsavory fee, urging them not to call their parents and to wire them money directly.
In one case in Michigan, a pair of grandparents was swindled out of $33,000, after they wired $3,000 to pay a fine for fishing in Canada without a license, and then another $30,000 when their supposed grandson called again to say that he needed to be bailed out of Canadian jail.
The 419 Email Scam
A scam that has been around nearly as long as email itself, the 419 scam is named for a section of the Nigerian penal code dealing with fraud. Here, someone (often a supposed “Nigerian prince”, but now scammers are likely to use a variety of false personas) pretends to be someone who needs help in the form of a large sum of money.
In the past, scammers have often promised victims a cut of the money they are asked to move around, but one notable change is that now, scammers are more likely to prey upon their victims’ goodwill, perhaps saying they need the money to escape the country. For a compendium of 419 email scams and similar variants, check out 419eater.com.
The “Hacked Bank Account” Scam
This common scam recently surfaced in Palm Beach County, Florida. A scammer poses as a bank representative, telling the unsuspecting call recipient that there has been fraudulent activity on their account. While on the phone with the victim, the scammer will attempt to get them to divulge their PIN and other identifying information, then say that someone from the bank will be at their house shortly to pick up the compromised card.
If you have a senior in your family, we urge you to discuss these scams with them and make sure they know not to divulge personal information to anyone who calls or emails, or to send money to anyone using a service with which they are not familiar or comfortable.
Do you know of or have you experienced similar scams that we should add to our list? Let us know in the comments below, through our online complaint portal, or contact us directly at ConsiderTheConsumer@gmail.com.