Fraud Against The Elderly: Why Are They So Vulnerable?

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There are many scams out there that try to part you with your money or even identity. I’ve talked about some specific types of scams known as phishing scams which are generally emails made to look like they are from legitimate companies such as Apple, Netflix, PayPal, and Amazon.

A lot of times I have shown examples of those types of fraudulent emails because I myself have received them especially ones that claim to be from PayPal, one of which you can read about here. Thankfully, I haven’t fallen victim to these type of phishing scams even though I’ve gotten close several times.

There is one group of the population though that scammers absolutely love to target because they tend to have the most amount of money and it is easier to get them to fall victim to their scams more so than other demographics of the world population. Scammers love to commit fraud against the elderly and I’ll take a closer look at why that is and what can be done to try to combat this situation.

It’s Easier to Play on the Elderly’s Emotions

There’s a significant amount of the world population who are in what’s called their twilight years or are also known as seniors and that continues to rise each year. Because of the amount of seniors there are and the amount of money they hold, mainly because of the jobs they had in the baby boomer years, scammers want to target them more than any other age demographic.

The transfer of wealth that has started taking place, is generally expected to be the largest in history as seniors transfer a lot of their money and wealth to their now adult children that they had.

What makes this so scary is that the scammers know this and so they are working as hard as they can to try to take advantage of the situation. If you search around the web, you’ll see that there’s no shortage of those in their 60s or older, being victims of many of the scams that are out there, often times losing tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Scary Hacker

I work at a financial institution and I’ve seen instances of seniors wanting to transfer or wire large sums of money to people they claim to know in either far away states in the US and sometimes another country. There was an older customer in particular who was fully convinced that he won Publisher’s Clearing house and that they were going to send him over $5 million after he sent them thousands of dollars.

The thing is though, if you’re truly a winner of Publisher’s Clearing House, they will NEVER ask you to send or transfer money, same way with winning the lottery. It makes no logical sense to send to someone if you’ve won money because if there were truly processing fees and other things, they could take it out of your winnings.

A lot of the scammers try to get you to buy gift cards and want you to give them the redemption codes. This is always a HUGE red flag and many other scams will also use the gift card ploy. Speaking of other scams, we’re going to take a look at some other ones circulating out there.

Other Types Of Scams

Phishing scams are one of many kinds of scams circulating in the world. There’s lottery scams, which I touched upon, impersonation scams, elder abuse (which I’ll talk about in a bit), online dating scams, car scams, mortgage scams, refund scams, and so much more.

Online dating or romance scams continue to rise each year. The FTC has said that people have lost over $200 million in romance scams in 2019.

How do romance scams operate? Well, lots of people are online looking for that special someone (myself included) and so they end up joining a lot of different apps or dating sites and create profiles in the hopes that they will attract and meet someone with the potential for them to hopefully marry and possibly have a family.

Now I’m not saying that all these online dating sites and apps are scams. The problem though, is that people on these dating apps can fake a profile in the hopes of duping someone into either meeting them, which could lead to far more serious crimes, and try to get money from you or at least build up enough trust where they might try to get money from you online.

A lot of times, romance scammers will say that they are from outside of the country and are trying to get in or needing citizenship and will need your help. They might say that it’ll cost money to become a legal citizen of a country and need help paying for the cost. This should be a very big red flag to you. Sometimes they’ll ask you for gift cards or other times they’ll ask you to wire the money to a specific location. If that happens, you’ll never see that money again.

There’s also what’s called tech support scams and these are always usually over the phone. They’ll say that they are from Microsoft or Google and say that your computer has a virus and that they need to take control of your computer and install virus software in order to get rid of the supposed virus.

Email Fraud - Admin PayPal

If you give them control of your computer, they could do some serious damage. They could take control of critical files and information by locking them away from you and demand a certain amount of money in order to get access to those files again. They could also find out important passwords to different accounts including bank accounts and could start draining those accounts of your hard-earned money, or they could just infect your computer with an actual virus or malware that could do some damage to your computer later on.

Another common type of scam that these tech support scammers can do is say that you’re owed a refund for a virus protection software and they’ll usually say they owe you anywhere from $200 to $500, and they need to take control of your computer in order to give you the refund. First though is that they’ll want you to log into your online banking and if you have multiple accounts, they’ll see that and than they’ll make your screen black so that you can’t see what they’re doing. What they’re doing behind the scenes is transferring money between your accounts and than they’ll say they made a mistake and refunded you too much money.

They’ll than say that they need most of that money back and so they’ll want you to go out to the store and buy gift cards in order to return that money. It’s all nothing, but a great big scam and to many of us, it seems like it is something that would be easy to avoid, but many people fall victim to them each and every day, especially the elderly. This brings me to my next and quite possibly the most heartbreaking kind of scam that affects the elderly, something I’ve witnessed firsthand through my job.

Elder Abuse

You may have heard of elder abuse before and wondered what exactly it means. Elder abuse is when someone trusted to care for an older person deliberately harms them which can either be physical, emotional, or financial. According to an article from, 1 in 10 Americans fall victim annually to elder abuse and fraud.

Elder abuse can happen from anyone caring for an older adult, but more often than not, it is usually family members who commit elder abuse. A lot of times it is adult children that ends up exploiting them, but it can also be other family members or even a partner or spouse.

As I mentioned earlier, I work at a financial institution and I have actually seen an instance of elderly abuse taking place in a customer’s account. We have protocols in place if elder abuse is suspected and thankfully they were utilized in this instance. The financial part of it can take place whenever someone in charge of another person’s finances, starts diverting money to other purposes instead of the financial well-being of the person.

What can happen is that bills don’t get paid, and debt could start ballooning out of control pretty quickly. It’s such a sad thing to hear happen, especially to much older people who can generally no longer care for themselves and can not understand or see what’s taking place. Is there anything that can be done to try to prevent elder abuse as well as helping the elderly avoid becoming victims of other scams out there? The answer is most definitely yes.

Scam Prevention

The best way to prevent you or others from becoming victims of scams is to read about the latest scams that are circulating out there. Also, if you suspect something doesn’t quite sound right, either from an email, over the phone, or even someone coming to your house, than definitely do not go through with it! Contact the authorities if you have to!

It will save you a lot of grief and heartache in the long run. If you’ve read some of my past articles, you’ll know how to spot a lot of the phishing scams that are circulating through email these days.

For scams that are over the phone, if someone on the other end tells you to wire money or purchase gift cards for whatever reason, you can be assured that it is a scam and avoid doing what they say at all costs. The IRS, Social Security Office, have other more legitimate ways of contacting you and will never ask for gift cards.

If someone comes to your house saying they are representatives of certain places and demand you pay right than in their for their services, especially in cash, you have the right to refuse and you can ask for ID or other forms of identification that they are from supposed company.

Cyber Security

I know a lot of times during severe weather season in my area and after a particularly damaging storm that ended up causing damage to houses and cars, there’s usually quite an uptick of contractors coming out, wanting to work on repairs. You should be very careful when that happens and know what you’re state laws are regarding contractors. If they can’t be backed up by the Better Business Bureau or have reputable references, it is best to stay away from them as they could do shoddy work or not even perform the work they were hired to do in the first place.

Going back to phishing emails, if you ever suspect an email is fraudulent, you can always forward that email to the actual legitimate company and they can truly tell you if that email was from them or not. Netflix, PayPal, and Apple all have an email address that you can forward suspected emails to.

Educating Others

We are definitely in some troubled times right now and sadly, scams are on the rise. The best defense against the mass amount of scams and scammers out there is to let others know what’s out there and how best to protect themselves. There’s lots of local news stories on the internet of people either being the victim of s scam or had gotten really close to falling for one.

I would share those stories with other people in your workplace, network, or group of friends that you may have. The more people that are informed of what’s out there and what to look for, the better prepared people are in not becoming victims of scams.

A lot of government websites out there has quite a bit of information on different scams, how to report them, and information on some of the latest and newest scams circulating these days. Websites such as the Better Business Bureau, FTC, and FCC are great places and resources to go to and share with others.

Never be afraid and ashamed to share your story if you were ever a victim of fraud. Your story can prevent others from falling victim to it as well. Have you ever fallen for a scam before? If so, feel free to post your comments below.