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The FBI has warned people of growing elderly fraud. As per the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) Elder Fraud Report 2022, seniors have experienced an 84% increase in total losses compared to the previous year.
The report showed that the investment scam contributed to much of the loss. The consequences of the crime are devastating for seniors, as their savings are drained from their accounts with little chance of recovering the funds. Such cases leave the elderly and their caregivers struggling to make ends meet.
Over 88,000 victims aged 60 and over reported losses of $3.1 billion. However, Illinois residents lost over $75 million, putting it in 10th place in the state-wide ranking. Technical-support fraud was the second most prevalent fraud after investment scams that seniors fall victim to. A business email compromise is the third scam on the list, with criminals sending an email that seems to come from a legitimate source.
David Nanz, FBI special agent of Springfield, stated that these crimes target the most vulnerable individuals in society. Further adding that they would use every available resource to clamp down on those who pocket the life savings of the elderly. Besides investigative efforts, the FBI is also committed to preventing the exploitation of senior citizens through education and community outreach.
The following tips will help seniors stay vigilant and protect them from fraud:
- Instantly disconnect the internet and shut down the device when you notice a locked screen or a pop-up message, as they are regularly used by criminals to spread malicious software.
- Be careful of uninvited mail, phone calls, and door-to-door service offers.
- Avoid giving personal details via mail, phone, mail, or the Internet unless you start the conversation.
- Request all purchases and plans to be documented.
- Ensure that your computer security anti-virus software is up to date.
- Discuss your investment plans only with a trusted individual.
- Do not pay for services in advance.
- Do not pay for products or services through cryptocurrency or prepaid gift cards.
- Resist the pressure to act immediately or secretly, as they are common tactics scammers use.
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a scam, even with no monetary loss and immediate danger, it’s advised to report the case to the FBI’s ic3.gov website. The Department of Justice (DOJ) also offers an Elder Fraud Hotline (833-FRAUD-11 or 833-372-8311) to help with resources and filing complaints with the IC3. Victims can also call FBI Springfield at 217-522-9675, or they can submit a tip online.
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