In my eyes, there is nothing more sickening than scam artists that prey upon our senior citizens. This segment of society is especially vulnerable to fraud, because of their trusting nature and polite manner. They are often uninformed of how technology can be used for nefarious purposes. Scams have become so sophisticated that often entire bank accounts are depleted in the blink of an eye. Senior Citizens nest eggs and life savings can vanish without a trace.
- One in every five Americans age 65 or older has been abused financially, according to a 2010 survey by the Investor Protection Trust, a financial-education organization.
- People 60 years and older were 26 percent of all fraud complaints tracked by the Federal Trade Commission in 2012 -- the most of any age group.
- True Link Financial found that the overall cost of this fraud is 12 times previous estimates -- more than $36 billion worth. Previously, the most frequently cited estimate of the amount of money lost to elder financial abuse was $2.9 billion -- courtesy of Met Life.
Without question, fleecing the elderly is big business, so to protect my long-time clients and senior citizen friends, I have listed four of the largest and most devastating Elder Scams that are currently being utilized. This is only a small portion of the dozens of ways by which predator’s steal from senior citizens, but these scams seem to be among the most predominant.
Reverse Mortgage Scams –
The most common types include “Turn Around Mortgages,” where reverse mortgage programs falsely promise to stop foreclosure, and “Equity Theft Schemes,” where seniors are sold a new residence and given a property deed, and then are later requested by the criminals to obtain a reverse mortgage. The scammers abscond with the proceeds.If you suspect that someone is attempting to target you via a Reverse Mortgage Scam, you can contact the HUD Hotline (Housing and Urban Development) at 1-800-347-3735.
Telemarketing Scams –
These usually target individuals, especially woman who are age 60 or older. The call generally sounds like an unsolicited sales call, offering you free prizes, trips, healthcare products or inexpensive home improvements or services. Sometimes the caller will claim to be contacting you on behalf of your family or friends. Tactics include pressure, “Offer only good for the next few minutes,” or over the phone credit card request, “We need a small deposit to ship your prize.”
Funeral and cemetery scams -
The government consumer protection agency has issued a warning about an influx of emails that trick unsuspecting individuals into clicking on links which download "malware," such as viruses, to their computers. The bogus emails have a subject line that states "funeral notification," and it appears to be from a funeral home that offers condolences, sometimes a date for a service, and invites a reader to click on a link for more information about a "celebration of your friend's life service." The malware then targets the customers’ financial information, credit card numbers, bank accounts.
Investment Schemes –
These may include advance fee schemes, vacation property schemes, pyramid schemes, prime bank note schemes, and letter fraud schemes. Get rich Quick Ploys are as old as time, Ponzi schemes have existed forever. Using the internet or telemarketing are just the most recent way to zero in on intended prey.
These are simply a small sampling of the dozens of targeted fraud-related schemes that are created every day to target senior citizens. If something doesn’t seem right the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission have easy to use websites that gives you everything you need to know about consumer fraud and senior citizen schemes.