Thursday, June 7, 2018
BBB found these frauds concentrate disproportionately on older people, who suffer the largest losses by far. A vast worldwide industry of sweepstakes mailings specifically targets older victims. Major law enforcement efforts are focused on the millions of deceptive mailings that have flooded the mailboxes of seniors across the country. In addition to money loss, victims often are emotionally devastated when they realize they have been defrauded. Some have even resorted to committing suicide.
In particular, the report offers data for the past 3 years by age group and shows the number of complaints by age and the amount of losses (and the total is staggering). The report ponders why elders are targets, offering
While some studies suggest older consumers are somewhat less likely to be fraud victims than the general population, perhaps because they have more life experience to guide them, there is evidence suggesting they are more likely to become victims of sweepstakes fraud. Complaint data shows more than half of victims are over 60, and those over 70 years old account for more than two thirds of the losses related to this scheme.
Why is this? It is speculated that the fraudsters hope to find victims with mild cognitive impairment, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These people often continue sending hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to fraudsters. A retired college president sent tens of thousands of dollars to scammers. CNN reported that an older man suffering from Alzheimer’s sent all of his funds to scammers and then committed suicide when the prize money never came. A San Diego TV station explains how one senior victim was defrauded.
In addition, seniors may simply have more money and may have been at the same address, with the same phone number, for a longer time and therefore may be easier to locate.
The 16 page report offers insight onto scams from Jamaica, Costa Rica and social media, provides profile stories of some victims and perpetrators, and offers suggestions and recommendations with contact info for agencies that handle cases of scams and frauds.
There is a lot of information packed into this 16 page report. Check it out!