In honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which was this week, the FBI Phoenix field office is promoting a public awareness effort to highlight elder fraud in Arizona. Elder fraud can happen to anyone, including former FBI and CIA director William Webster and his wife, Lynda, who fell victim to a scam.
Elder fraud takes many forms as criminals find ways to take advantage of this vulnerable and growing population.
Seniors are a particularly vulnerable victim group and are often specifically targeted for financial fraud crimes. Seniors are often more polite and trusting, have difficulty saying no, may be lonely or spend a great deal of time alone, may have diminished physical or mental capacity, are less likely to report the crime out of shame, and are often financially stable and own their homes.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3.gov) elder fraud report, Arizona ranked 10th in the nation for the most elder fraud victims with 3,175 and 8th for the most money lost reporting $54,441,279 in losses for 2021. This information is from people over 60 years old.
Top elder scams for Arizona in 2021 –
- Type: Tech Support Victims: 493 Reported Money Loss: $10,088,890
- Type: Confidence/Romance Victims: 279 Reported Money Loss: $9,840,483
- Type: Business Email Compromise Victims: 95 Reported Money Loss: $4,385,191
An important step to avoid becoming victimized is for people to be more aware of scams targeting the elderly.
Tips to help seniors protect themselves against financial scams include the following:
- Shred credit card receipts and old bank statements.
- Close unused credit card or bank accounts.
- Do not give out personal information via the phone, mail, or Internet unless you initiated the contact.
- Talk over investments with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor.
- Do not pay for services via prepaid or gift cards or cryptocurrency. Legitimate services will not request payment via prepaid or gift cards or cryptocurrency.
- Resist the urge to act quickly. Most scammers will rush you to make a payment.
- Never send money to a stranger.
If you believe you are a victim of fraud, or know a senior who may be, regardless of financial loss, immediately report the incident to your local law enforcement agency and to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.