Posted on the Jeffco Sheriff’s “Behind the Badge” blog on May 15, 2023
In the last 60 days, we have taken 24 reports of elder fraud, involving victims age 70 or older. This is a 41% increase from the previous 60 days. Our victims are not numbers, however; they’re real people. People like Susan, who was victimized on April 21st, and whose name we have changed to tell her story.
Susan, 76, got a call from a man claiming to work for an Internet provider. He told her that while he was checking her Internet speed, he noticed she had a $500 credit on her account for services she was entitled to but did not use. He instructed her to get on her computer and when she did, a page was already open that she did not recall opening. The caller told Susan she had accidentally hit a button that selected a refund of $5,000 instead of $500. The caller then told Susan he would lose his job if he didn’t get the extra $4,500 back.
The caller instructed Susan to withdraw $4,500 from her bank and purchase nine $500 gift cards. He stayed on the phone with Susan while she went to the bank and two separate stores to purchase the gifts cards. During the call, Susan asked him several times if he was scamming her. He said no. Once she had the gift cards, the caller instructed her to tell him the gift card numbers and security codes. Susan did. After the call ended, Susan tried calling his phone number back but the number was disconnected.
Unfortunately Susan was scammed for $4,500.00. Could the same happen to your parents? Your grandparents? Even you?
Please talk to your loved ones about scams. Think of how many scam calls, emails or texts you get in a week, and you may not even be targeted like older adults are. Elder fraud is one of the more common and frustrating financial crimes. Oftentimes, victims are not able to recover their hard-earned money. And oftentimes, we are not able to identify suspects who hide behind layers of fake identities and cloned phone numbers.
Scams come in many forms, but how we should respond to them is the same:
> Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.
Do not provide personal information on the phone or in an email or text message to anyone you do not know. Personal information includes date of birth, social security number, credit card numbers, and bank account information.
> Do not withdraw money, send money, purchase gift cards, or make other financial transactions for someone you do not know.
> If you suspect it’s a scam, end all communication – hang up the phone or delete the email or text message.
> If you have been scammed or your personal information has been used without your knowledge or permission (for example, a new credit card arrives in your name), report it to local law enforcement immediately (and cancel the card!).
One of the best ways to help protect your older loved ones from being scammed is to talk to them about common scams and how to avoid them. For more information, visit https://www.jeffco.us/985/Scams.