Older Americans are often the targets of fraud and abuse by family members, caregivers, strangers, and even business entities. In 2021 alone, the money lost to elder fraud reached $1.7 billion. Understanding the numbers behind the fraud can help seniors protect themselves and their assets.
Breaking Down Elder Fraud Statistics
According to The Motley Fool, losses have nearly doubled from 2019 to 2021. With 97,371 victims in 2021, this indicates that it is more important than ever for seniors to protect their finances.
The average amount lost by victims of senior scams in 2021 was $18,246, but many seniors lost more than $100,000. The most common type of scam that targeted seniors was confidence fraud, which involves tricking seniors into wiring money to a scammer who poses as someone they can trust. Other types of scams included prize offers, government imposter fraud, and investment fraud.
Financial abuse also poses a significant threat to seniors. Loved ones and caregivers may take advantage of seniors’ physical or emotional vulnerability to gain access to their accounts and assets. Financial abuse, while not subject to the same tracking that fraud and scams are, has likely been responsible for billions in losses.
Scam calls come in many forms. Scammers might pretend to be a loved one or acquaintance, might use the ruse of an emergency, or might act as a government employee to gain the trust of their marks. One scam that is on the rise in recent months is actually a spin on an older con: acting as a Social Security employee.
How to Spot This Social Security Scam
How does this scam work? The con artists tell their potential victims that someone is trying to open bank accounts in their name. In order to stop this from happening, they’ll say, the victim needs to download an app on their phones. This app will allow the supposed Social Security or IRS employee to remotely access their phone.
By remotely accessing the phone, the scammer can access passwords and accounts. They might ask their victim to transfer money into a different account. According to NBC 2 News, one Florida woman had the scammer ask her to transfer money into Bitcoin—luckily, a fraud alert came up before she was able to complete the transaction.
A new scam is targeting seniors—specifically, seniors with investments. Using fear tactics relating to economic insecurity, scam artists are working to convince retirees to trade their hard-earned investments for coins made out of precious metals that don’t hold the same value. Learn how to stay safe today.
How This Precious Metals Scam Works
How does this precious metals scam work?
First, salespeople will prey on fears about society at large—the pandemic, economic issues, or other forms of instability. They’ll attempt to convince their targets that having money in traditional investments is no longer safe.
Their alternative to investments? Buying coins made out of precious metals such as gold or silver.
However, fees and high markups can inflate the cost of these coins. Those who buy them are left with items of far less value than their investments were worth.
AARP reports that, Joe Rotunda, a member of the Texas State Securities Board, has noted that “These scams prey on the concerns that senior citizens may have relating to the economy, their retirement and their financial well-being.”
Be wary of anyone using pressuring tactics to encourage you to buy coins made out of precious metals. Talk to a trusted financial advisor before making any decisions involving large amounts of money. And report fraud to the FTC when possible.