Phishing scams are becoming more and more sophisticated—so much so that even a savvy guy like Keith Hernandez almost fell for one.
What Are Phishing Scams?
Phishing scams are a type of fraud where scammers send emails or texts that look like they’re from a legitimate company in an attempt to get you to share personal information like your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account login information.
They might also try to get you to download software that will give them access to your computer or device.
Once they have this information, they can use it to commit identity theft or financial fraud.
Hernandez, a former MLB player and current broadcaster for the New York Mets, recently shared his story of how he almost fell victim to a phishing scam. He received an email that looked very official, purporting to be from Florida Power & Light, saying he needed to pay them a deposit or his power would be shut off.
The email looked legitimate at first glance, and he even called the number they gave him. But luckily, he called his bank before he gave them any of his personal information.
This incident is a reminder that we all need to be careful about the emails we open and click on. If you’re ever unsure about the legitimacy of an email, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not click on any links or attachments.
Stay Safe from Scams
If you think you may have been the victim of a phishing scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also learn more about how to protect yourself from these types of scams by keeping up with The Seniors Center‘s latest posts.
When looking at the different ways that scam artists target seniors, it’s easy to focus on the ones that lure victims in with emotional appeals. Grandparent and sweetheart scams are both examples of this. But there’s another type of scam that’s just as dangerous, if not more so — the fraudulent check scheme.
How One Las Vegas Man Swindled Seniors Out of Millions
One recent example of an especially insidious fraudulent check scheme took place in Las Vegas. A 76-year-old resident of the city, Michael Zeto, was discovered to be stealing money from other seniors’ bank accounts by depositing fraudulent checks.
He first purchased the names and bank account information of senior citizens from foreign telemarketers. He created checks in their names and deposited them into his own business accounts. Zeto has since been caught, however, and faces many years in prison for this form of fraud.
Stay Safe from Fraudulent Check Schemes
Fraudulent check schemes are just one of the many ways that scam artists target seniors. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
The most important thing is to be aware of the signs of fraud. If someone you don’t know asks you to deposit a check for them, be very suspicious. Never give out your bank account information to someone you don’t know.
You should also keep a close eye on your bank account. Check your statements regularly and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately. If you do become the victim of fraud, be sure to contact the police so they can catch the person responsible.
The Seniors Center
By following these simple steps, you can help keep yourself safe from fraudulent check schemes and other types of scams. At The Seniors Center, we’re helping seniors stay safe — and providing helpful information about Social Security and other issues impacting older Americans. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to learn more!
Many scam artists target elderly Americans. They can be attractive targets because many seniors have retirement savings or own their own homes, resources that are valuable to scammers. The FBI works to take down scam artists, but relies on tips and insight from everyday American seniors to find out what common scams are causing problems.
This video from the FBI details how a former director of the agency was targeted by a scam and how he and his wife were able to take down the scam artist. Their article also gives seniors insight into how they can spot and report fraud.
Common Scams Targeting Seniors
According to the FBI, of the most common senior scams include:
Lottery scams – Be wary of anyone contacting you claiming that you have won money
Caregiver or guardianship scams – These insidious forms of fraud take advantage of seniors when they are most vulnerable
Tech support scams – Giving out passwords or access to devices can allow scam artists to steal personal information or money
If you suspect that you’re being targeted by a scam artist, you can use the FBI Tip Form to report your findings. Giving as much detail as possible can help the agency track down bad actors.
Law enforcement in South Carolina is raising the alarm after a con artist targeted a local senior woman at the end of 2022.
How One Woman Lost Her Savings
According to local ABC affiliate WSOC, Betty Burleson, a resident of Fort Mill, S.C., was contacted by a con artist who claimed to be a representative of Amazon. The fake agent claimed that fraudulent charges had been made on her account and that they were able to trace these charges to a case of identity theft. Betty was informed that her Social Security number was in use at five different banks, and in order to keep her savings safe, she would have to take action.
She took all of the money out of her bank account in cash as the “agent” asked, then mailed it to an address in California. The next day, when she went to contact the number again to check the status of her account, she discovered that the con artist had scammed her out of more than $15,000!
Of course, everything he had told her was a lie. There were no fraudulent charges, her Social Security number was not in use at five banks, and the address where she had sent her money was fake.
Staying Safe from Fraud
Staying safe from con artists and other fraudsters is an important part of protecting your financial future. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Never give money upfront in order to receive a prize
Never give out personal information, such as Social Security numbers or bank account numbers
Be wary of calls and emails purporting to be from government agencies
Do your research before investing in any product or service
If you think you may be a victim of con artist fraud, contact your local authorities immediately. The Seniors Center is here to help our readers stay safe with resources on fraud prevention. To keep up with our latest posts, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
When you reach out to a financial advisor, you expect to be taken care of. But one Nashville senior was scammed out of thousands by someone she thought she could trust.
How This Senior Scam Worked
This woman’s senior scam story begins with a man handing out AARP information. According to WKRN.com, this man told a Nashville woman, Paula Gilmore, that he could help her with her finances and manage her money.
She believed him—he seemed credible. However, over the next 10 years, she handed him close to $230,000. But instead of investing it, he was pocketing it for himself.
According to Gilmore’s daughter, the man would open up her mail and even write checks from her own account to pass off as dividends. In reality, he was just cashing them and taking the money for himself.
Eventually, the FBI caught up to the scam artist. However, the damage was done.
Staying Safe from Fraud and Scams
Consult others before making any decisions about your finances, especially if someone you don’t know approaches you.
The FBI has recently released statistics detailing the cyber crimes that have taken place so far in 2021. These crimes range from phishing scams to ransomware attacks, and they have affected individuals, businesses, and government entities alike. The good news is that there are steps that everyone can take to protect themselves from these types of attacks.
Here are some of the most common cyber crimes that have been reported so far this year:
Ransomware – This type of attack involves criminals using malicious software to lock up your computer files and demand a ransom in order to get them back. Ransomware attacks can be devastating for businesses, as they can result in the loss of important data and files.
Supply chain attacks – These attacks target the supply chains of businesses in order to gain access to their networks. Once inside, the attackers can then install ransomware or steal sensitive data.
Critical infrastructure attacks – These attacks target the systems that control our critical infrastructure, such as power grids and water treatment plants. These attacks can have a significant impact on public safety.
For individuals, the best defense against these types of attacks is to educate yourself about the risks and be aware of the signs of an attack. If you receive a suspicious email, don’t click on any links or attachments. Change passwords regularly and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. And, if you are a victim of an attack, don’t pay the ransom.
There are many different types of scams targeting seniors, from fraudulent investment schemes to fake lottery scams. And with seniors being one of the most vulnerable demographic groups when it comes to fraud, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put together a new advisory group to help fight back against these scams.
How the FTC Advisory Group Will Fight Back
According to the FTC, this group is part of the Stop Senior Scams Act. It will bring together “federal agency partners, consumer advocates, and industry representatives” to identify and find ways to stop scams that target seniors.
A few of the ways that the group plans to do this are by:
Improving education efforts
Finding innovative ways to prevent scams
Improving industry training
Developing research to better understand how seniors are targeted by scammers
This initiative comes on the heels of a new program in Pennsylvania bringing together government agencies and community resources to help seniors who have been victimized by scams. This new wave of anti-scam efforts is a welcome relief for seniors.
When looking for a new apartment, it’s important to be aware of rental scams. Unfortunately, many scammers target seniors specifically because they may be more trusting or less familiar with the internet and modern technology.
The scammer finds a rental listing online, usually on a reputable website like Craigslist or Zillow. They then create a fake listing with similar or identical information, often using stolen photos.
Next, the scammer contacts potential victims, usually by email or text message. They may pose as the owner, manager, or leasing agent for the apartment and often claim to be out of town or unable to meet in person.
The scammer will try to get the victim to wire money for the deposit or first month’s rent, often using a fake identity or a fake website. They may also ask for personal information like a Social Security number or bank account number.
Once they have the victim’s money, the scammer disappears and is very difficult to track down.
What to Look For
There are a few red flags that can help you spot a rental scam:
The listing price is significantly lower than similar listings in the same area.
The person you’re dealing with is reluctant to meet in person or show you the apartment.
You’re asked to wire money or pay with a gift card.
You’re asked for personal information like your Social Security number before you’ve even signed a lease.
We’ve all gotten calls from strangers claiming to be from the IRS or a “free” vacation. But how can you tell if a call is really a scam?
Sample Scam Calls
AARP has recently released a report detailing seven calls that they logged on their Fraud Watch Network Helpline. Reading through these examples can help you learn more about the ways that scammers try to trick people.
Here’s a few of their examples:
Medicare number requests: Be very careful about giving away your Medicare number. Scammers will often call pretending to be from Medicare and say that you need to verify your number for tests or benefits.
IRS imposters: These scammers will call and say that you owe money to the IRS and need to pay immediately or face consequences. They may even threaten to arrest you if you don’t pay.
Energy companies: Scammers will sometimes call pretending to be from an energy company like Con Edison or PSE&G. They’ll say that you need to pay your bill immediately or your service will be shut off.
As you read through these examples, see if you can spot the red flags. Was the caller asking for personal information? Were they threatening you with arrest or disconnection?
If you get a call like this, don’t panic. Hang up right away and report it to the FTC or your local police department. And remember, you can always say no to unsolicited calls.
The tactics used to scam seniors are becoming more and more creative. But, luckily, law enforcement is catching up to these criminals. Recently, three scam artists who posed as family members in need of money were caught and will be sentenced in October. These scammers made phone calls to their victims, preying on their fears by saying they were in danger or in jail. Then, they would ask the seniors to gather cash before sending a courier to collect it.
According to the Department of Justice, these scam artists were able to steal more than $350,000 from fourteen Rhode Island seniors. But now that they’ve been caught, these seniors can sleep a little easier knowing that these criminals are behind bars.
If you’re ever in doubt about a phone call from a family member, hang up and call them back at a number you know to be safe. You can also ask a friend or neighbor to come over so you’re not alone while you verify the story. And, of course, never give out personal information or money to someone you don’t know.