While most online scams can be targeted toward virtually anyone with access to a computer, many are crafted specifically with the elderly in mind. Seniors are often targeted for identity theft since they are perceived as being more susceptible to certain scams. Here are some of the most common forms of elder fraud but you can find more about detecting and reporting these scam in our elder fraud article.
Elderly people seeking to invest are often looking for short-term lucrative projects to supplement their retirement income. Some scams simply promise fantastic returns in order to get seniors to hand over their money.
The insurance scam plays on the assumption that seniors might be less focused on what they have now and more so on what they will leave behind for loved ones. This type of scheme might involve a phone call or email persuading the senior that they need an annuity or life insurance policy. Often the insurance firm is completely made up, but insurance scams are actually sometimes carried out by legitimate agents, including one who has been caught multiple times.
As people age, health tends to be more likely to deteriorate and the need for prescription medication can become expensive. Many online pharmacies have stepped in to offer drugs and other healthcare at lower than average prices. The problem is, most of these sites do not operate within the law or follow standard practices. For example, the founder of Canada Drugs is wanted in the US for selling counterfeit medicines, but the website is still very much up and running.
Without proper regulation, consumers really have no way of knowing what they are getting or if they will receive anything at all.
This one is technically a form of vishing and involves someone calling a grandparent and posing as their grandchild who needs money urgently. They might say they’re in jail or in need of medical help abroad, but that it’s imperative they get the money immediately. Of course, the desperation tugs on the heartstrings of their “relatives” and one convicted scammer said that about one in 50 people fell for his scam.