April 17, 2013
Senior Citizen Fraud Showing No Signs of Stopping
In the past decade, crimes against senior citizens have proven to be an increasingly pervasive problem. Prevention groups have cropped up across the country to help prevent and control elder fraud, including efforts by AARP and the FBI. The FBI says that senior citizens should especially be aware of fraud schemes for many reasons including the fact that they likely have a “nest egg” to own their home, were generally raised to be polite and trusting, and are less likely to report fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t even realize they have been scammed.
Scammers take many forms, pretending, for example, that they are from the IRS, Medicare, the Federal Trade Commission or another government agency. Here are some various types of elder fraud from a recent AARP report, and steps that can be taken to avoid them.
Police Charity Scams
Thieves may pose as police claiming that they are collecting taxes on lottery winnings on behalf of their local jurisdictions.
Arrest Warrant Scams
Police impostors claim there is an outstanding warrant on an unpaid parking ticket or other violation, and threaten arrest unless a fine is paid. This threat is typically made by phone, and impersonators can use “spoofing” software to have the local police department’s phone number falsely appear on your Caller ID. It is important to know, however, that police will never give advance warning of arrests, and will never soliciting money for unpaid fines.
Debt Collection Scams
According to the Better Business Bureau, debt collection scams are on the rise. People posing as cops will claim to arrest or jail you unless you pay money that they say is owed on a loan. One should note that while a third of U.S. states do allow jailing for not paying debts, this process always involves filing and winning a lawsuit. Police will not carry out work on behalf of debt collectors, so any phone calls or letters attempting to collect debt by a supposed police officer will be a scam.
Scammers often target seniors as they hang around outside banks, posing as law enforcement officers trying to investigate a bank employee. These scammers will ask you to withdraw money in order to check serial numbers and mark bank note, insisting that they will go back and redeposit the money on your behalf.
Someone calls pretending to be your grandchild who has been arrested. They may hand over the phone to an “arresting officer” who seeks bail money.
Crooks pose as DEA officers threatening to arrest for buying prescription drugs online unless a fine is paid. Another common ruse is the “ransomware” scam that will pop up on your computer with a fake FBI message accusing you of watching child pornography or committing some other illegal act online. Do not pay any fees.
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