Common Fraud Schemes Attacking Seniors

Negative news is not usually put in a blog but I have had two very recent experiences that need to be shared. At least I think so.

I happened to be visiting last week with relatives. We had a great time renewing our acquaintances for a few days.

However, I was shocked to find out that an aunt had been swindled out of $200,000. She is elderly but very active and takes care of herself to this day. How did they talk her into giving them that much money? I don’t know and she is too embarrassed to tell.

I just took on a new client. A very nice person. He is also elderly. His prior advisors put him in stock options. His risk profile does not include risks associated with options, way too risky. The loss was $100,000.

You have probably herd stories like this yourself. Maybe you have had a relative who has experienced these events.

My mother had a similar experience. She was lonely and was involved with a purchasing scam where she was talked into purchasing items she liked. She loved vacuum cleaners and they talked her into purchasing more than one.

While I was googling seniors’ fraud my first stop was the FBI’s website. The following is a screen scrape from that sight.  This is a more complete view than my personal experience.

The FBI’s Common Fraud Schemes webpage provides tips on how you can protect yourself and your family from fraud. Senior citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes for the following reasons:

  • Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.
  • People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
  • Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
  • When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.


  • Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.

The above was copied from the FBI web site.

5 common phone scams.

Stay close to your relatives and friends. Have open discussions about fraud and con artists. Visit the FBI Website and become more aware of what they do and what they have published.

Don’t let this happen to you or yours.