Aging should not be viewed as life chapter of lost youth, but of advanced maturity. Unfortunately, real life is far too cruel for such romantic life notions to apply to everyone.
The hard reality is that as they get older, many senior citizens experience an appreciable decline in cognitive function and memory retention. Or they become lonelier and detached from a fast-changing world that no longer resembles the world they grew up in.
Almost 12% of Americans over the age of 65 experience irrevocable declines in cognitive function and increasing forgetfulness. And almost 30% of the senior citizens categorized in that estimate live alone.
While the average scam artist may not be aware of these statistics, they do know that it is relatively easier to scam vulnerable elderly people than others.
Over 105,000 senior citizens were scammed out of $1 billion in 2020 during the initial onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic.
The average scam victim lost $9,100. More than 2,000 senior citizens lost over $100,000 or more to scam artists.
If you know an elderly person in cognitive decline, make sure to check on them often. Special safeguards can be set up at banks to prevent them from withdrawing too much money at once.
Or trusted caregivers can be legally enabled to care for them.
Here are three scams that historically target the elderly that you should watch out for.
“Loneliness scams” is an umbrella term that describes various scam tactics that scam artists use to take financially take advantage of lonely senior citizens.
In a romance scam, scam artists will groom lonely senior citizens over weeks and months over the phone or social media to convince them of romantic intent.
In the long-lost relative scam, scam artists will scour the target’s social media or quiz them about their family.
Then, the scam artist contacts them over the phone or social media and claim to be an estranged relative desperate to reconnect and in need of financial aid.
The sweepstakes scam involves a scam artist contacting their target and convincing them that they won a lottery or sweepstakes prize.
Then, the senior citizen is urged to send money to pay for taxes or to cover contest fees before they can claim their prize.
Home improvement scams
The scam artist will monitor the neighborhood and even perform introductory door knocks to assess which people are amenable to queries than others.
Then the scam artist will introduce themselves as home improvement experts and inform the homeowner that they need immediate repair work.
The scam artist then will insist on prepayment for imaginary home repairs that never needed to be done and never will be.