Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Senior citizens frequent targets of scammers

Senior citizens lose $36.5 billion a year to scams, according to a 2015 True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse.

Nila Howard of Columbus, who was on the receiving end of a scam attempt last week, wanted to make sure she wasn’t the next victim.

Howard said she received a call Nov. 9 that showed up on her caller ID as “private.”

“I thought it could have been a family member calling me,” Howard said, so she answered the call.

“Grandma?” a man’s voice asked.

“I said ‘Yes,’” Howard replied.

The caller claimed to be in Miami, Florida, with a friend whose mother had died of cancer — and he was supporting that friend through an emotionally difficult time.

“I knew it was a scam from the beginning because our grandchildren do not call us. They text.

Secondly, our children are the type that always keep us informed on what our grandchildren are doing,” Howard said. “I played along because I wanted to find out how they conduct these scams.”

The story then shifted to the boys being at a Miami hospital helping a pregnant woman whose boyfriend had planted drugs in their car.

“We got arrested, and you know we would never do drugs,” Howard quoted the caller as saying.

“We’re at the police station. We got one phone call that we could make, and I made it to you.”

Howard said she knew the next request would be for money, and she was right.

“If you’re in trouble, you really need to call your dad,” Howard said she told the caller.

That wasn’t the answer he was looking for, and then asked to talk with “his grandpa,” Howard said.

She replied that she wanted to talk with the sergeant on duty there. If he would provide the phone number to the police station, “I will give this to your father to get this straightened out,” Howard said.

When that didn’t satisfy the caller, about five minutes into the conversation, Howard concluded: “I’m tired of this and don’t appreciate this scam.”

The caller hung up.

Notifying police

Howard said she did end up calling the police department — not one in Miami, but in her hometown of Columbus to report the scam attempt.

Any attempt to defraud someone is a crime, said Lt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the Columbus Police Department.

But getting enough evidence to track the suspect down and prosecute a case can be difficult, he said.

Some of the phone calls are international, beyond the jurisdiction of local police, Harris said.

Home-construction scams — to do roofing or sealing driveways during warm-weather months for example — are easier for local police to investigate because they are occurring in the community, he said.

“A lot of times it’s the elderly where their focus is on. They tend to be more trusting,” Harris said.

Scams targeting older residents are one of the six most popular attempts at financial exploitation, said Candice Rickard, chief risk officer for Old National Bank, which created a free course that outlines how senior citizens can detect, protect themselves against and report financial exploitation attempts.

The most popular scams aimed at seniors are as follows, Rickard said:

Common scams: Grandparent, Sweetheart, Advanced Fee/Lottery, Work from Home, Service Scams.

Social engineering: Leveraging human interaction online to learn more about the victim.

Spoofed emails: Fraudulent emails that appear to be from the victim’s actual account.

Phishing: Sending an email falsely claiming to be a legitimate business in an attempt to dupe the victim into divulging personal, sensitive information.

Pop-ups: These appear on the victim’s computer enticing them to click and download a “fix.” Instead, malware is added to the computer.

Friendly fraud: When someone in a position of trust utilizes that relationship to commit fraud. This type of fraud is sometimes referred to as trust abuse.

Full Article & Source:
Senior citizens frequent targets of scammers

No comments: