Seniors can be among the most vulnerable segments of society.
As a result, there are numerous scams that aimed squarely at taking advantage of the elderly. Knowing what these scams are and how to avoid is key to avoiding a loss of money, time and dignity.
#1: International Lottery Winner
This scam plays on the desire for seniors to take care of themselves and their loved ones on more than retirement savings or the fixed income they receive from a pension payout or social security. A correspondence is sent the senior letting them know they’ve won the lottery in another country. Millions of dollars are waiting to be transferred into their account, after they pay a processing fee. Depending on the scam, this processing fee could be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Victims of this scam surmise that they can replace what they pay out with the winnings and send the money. One of two things happens from this point: the person corresponding on behalf of the “lottery” disappears or continues to extort the senior for more money. Many victims have blown through their life savings before realizing it’s a scam.
#2: Anti-Aging Products
Products like these are seen on infomercials all the time, so where’s the scam? Some companies take it a step further, promising results that are simply impossible. Playing on the insecurities of aging women, in particular, the scams sell these products for significantly higher prices than what one might pay for the same product in the local drugstore. Moreover, once they have the senior’s credit card information, they continue to charge the card for bogus products that they might or might not send, much to the chagrin of unsuspecting seniors.
#3: Fake Accident
Scammers get the name of a family member and contacts the senior to let them know their loved one has been in an accident in some faraway place. The scammer gives a small amount of personal info on the person – which is often available via the Internet – and tells the senior that their loved one needs money. Most often, the ploy is that the money is for healthcare expenses, since the loved one is critically injured. The senior, worried for their family member or friend, sends the money without double-checking the story and the scammer moves on to the next victim.
#4: Charity Scams
Seniors tend to be among the biggest demographic when it comes to charitable giving. Therefore, it is no surprise that unscrupulous charity outfits often pray on this segment of the population to get money. This usually happens after a disaster of some sort, when the populous as a whole is in a more generous frame of mind. Like the anti-aging product scam, these charities may sometimes obtain credit card information and continue to charge a card or even bank account after the initial donation.
#5: Investment Scams
Upon reaching a certain age, many seniors worry about their retirement savings or existing investments and whether or not it will suffice financially for the rest of their lives. As a result, this demographic is more likely to be prey to scammers that promise to invest that money and turn it into millions. This could be domestic – like the Bernie Madoff scandal – or a “Nigerian prince” that has come into some money and wants to be investment partners. Seniors desperate to be comfortable in their twilight years are more susceptible to these scams and often send money as a result.
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