The FBI Phoenix Field Office is raising awareness about cyber scams targeting the elderly in Arizona.
As a response to the increasing prevalence of fraud against the elderly, the Department of Justice and the FBI partnered in 2017 to create the Elder Justice Initiative. Elder Fraud is defined as a financial fraud scheme which targets or disproportionately affects people over the age of 60. The FBI, including IC3, has worked tirelessly to educate this population on how to take steps to protect themselves from being victimized.
Victims over the age of 60 may encounter scams including Advance Fee Schemes, Investment Fraud Schemes, Romance Scams, Tech Support Scams, Grandparent Scams, Government Impersonation Scams, Sweepstakes/Charity/Lottery Scams, Home Repair Scams, TV/Radio Scams, and Family/Caregiver Scams. If the perpetrators are successful after initial contact, they will often continue to victimize these individuals. Further information about the Elder Justice Initiative is available at justice.gov/elderjustice.
According to the latest FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3 report, residents over the age of 60 made up the majority of Arizona cyber-crime victims in 2020 (3,053) and accounted for the most adjusted losses (more than $27 million).
Here are the top 5 crimes, targeting Arizona seniors for fiscal year 2020 (according to IC3):
Top 5 Arizona crimes by victim count (ages 60+)*
1. Type: Non-Payment/Non-Delivery
- Victim Count: 815
- Victim Loss: $2,129,253.472. Type: Personal Data Breach
- Victim Count: 315
- Victim Loss: $584,952.73
3. Type: Terrorism/Threats of Violence
- Victim Count: 247
- Victim Loss: $287,729.33
4. Type: Identity Theft
- Victim Count: 231
- Victim Loss: $966,096.77
5. Type: Extortion
- Victim Count: 200
- Victim Loss: $140,054.57
Top 5 Arizona crimes by financial loss (ages 60+)*
1. Type: Business e-mail Compromise
- Victim Count: 98
- Victim Loss: $7,226,827.59
2. Type: Investment
- Victim Count: 112
- Victim Loss: $6,807,103.58
3. Type: Confidence Fraud/Romance Scam
- Victim Count: 174
- Victim Loss: $5,191,756,68
4. Type: Real Estate/Rental
- Victim Count: 138
- Victim Loss: $3,066,291.37
5. Type: Virtual Currency
- Victim Count: 101
- Victim Loss: $3,026,100.57
While anyone, young or old can fall victim to these scams, seniors with cognitive impairment, health issues, or other concerns are at higher risk. Add that to the fact that many seniors have a set amount of money in retirement, with little ability to recover financially should fraud occur, and the results can be devastating.
If you are an older American, or a caregiver, here are some things you can do to protect you and your family:
- Contact an attorney before signing any legal document.
- Check financial statements every month for unusual activity.
- Avoid unsolicited contacts—whether by phone, e-mail, at your door, or in-person while you are out and about. It is OK to hang up the phone, delete the e-mail, or tell someone you are not interested and walk away.
- Be wary when someone asks you to form a company in order to open up a new bank account.
- Never give your financial details or personal information to someone you don’t know and trust, especially if you met them online.
- Be suspicious when the individual you met on a dating website wants to use your bank account for receiving and forwarding money.
- Be careful of IRS imposter/Sweepstakes scams where the fraudsters tell you that you won the lottery/sweepstakes and you have to pay taxes before you collect your winnings. This is a scam!
- A legitimate company will not ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. Do not accept any job offers that ask you to do this.
- The government will never request money or personal information from you over the phone.
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.