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Fraud Prevention – Part 1

As internet use and online business have increased, so has online financial theft and fraud.  Seniors are especially susceptible for a number of reasons.  For one thing, criminals go where the money is.  Much of the country’s wealth is held by the older population.  Secondly, as we age, our cognitive skills are not what they once were, making it harder for us to recognize a scam.  Thirdly, many seniors are unfamiliar with and confused by technology.  

For these reasons, scammers find seniors to be an easy mark.  We’ve seen an increase in calls to our office from clients and their family members relating stories of how they were scammed out of tens and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are common elements to every scam.  The scammer has a story.  Why is he or she asking for your information or for your money?  Sometimes it’s the promise of  a greater reward.  “Give me a small amount of money now and I’ll give you a larger sum back later.”  In other cases the story is that you owe the scammer money.  To establish legitimacy, the scammer makes it look like you are dealing with a known business or entity – except that you’re not.  It’s all fake.

By the time the victim realizes he has been scammed it’s too late.  The money is gone, usually overseas via online transfers.  The police do not have the resources to help and in most cases the perpetrators are beyond their jurisdiction to be able to prosecute.

The best way to avoid losing money to these scams lies in preventing it before it happens.  While I am an elder law attorney and not a computer expert, next week I’ll share with you the suggestions we make to clients and their families to help avoid being the next victim