There are many, many good people in the world.  Some strangers would give you the shirt off their back, folks who volunteer their time to help others in need, and those who hold the door open for you as you are entering a store.  Especially in our tumultuous times, it is important to be kind and generous to our fellow neighbors.  However, with the good must come the bad.  There are scammers out there who prey on various populations, usually ones who are more vulnerable.  Beware of senior scams!

What are some senior scams to be aware of?

The ne’er-do well must somehow get in contact with you in order to scam you.  This would usually be via telephone or the internet, but it can also be in-person contact.

  1. Watch out for fake Facebook friends.

More and more seniors are socializing on the popular social media platform, Facebook. The Better Business Bureau reported that a government grant scam is prevalent on Facebook.  The scammer makes a fake Facebook profile that looks like it belongs to a friend of yours.  The “friend” sends a message to you stating that the “friend” received a government grant of some sort.  Of course, to receive the government grant, you must make an initial investment or pay an application fee.

Lessons: 

  • Don’t believe every Facebook profile is real, even ones that look like they belong to a real-life friend.
  • All legitimate federal grants are listed on grants.gov.
  • Government agencies will not communicate with you via social media.
  1. Watch out for scam emails, fake pop-ups, and fake bank transfers.

Some scammers will send out an email stating that you have a virus or other malware on your computer.  In one instance, the victim was contacted by a company called Premium Tech Support to clean up his computer.  The victim was quoted a price of $599, which he paid.  The company subsequently told him they accidentally deposited almost $80,000 into the victim’s bank account and asked for the money back.  The victim transferred the funds back to the company, only to realize that the initial transfer of funds from the company into the victim’s bank account was phony.

In another instance, the senior had a pop-up window appear on their computer that informed them they had a virus.  The pop-up asked for the senior to contact customer support to fix the issue.  Once the senior called customer support, a representative took control over the victim’s computer to remove the non-existent virus.  Paying to remove the non-existent virus was one part of the scam, but then the scammer also had access to sensitive information. 

Lessons: 

  • Do some research to ensure you are working with a reputable business.

At Applegate & Dillman Elder Law we strive to protect and advocate for our clients. Seniors are particularly susceptible to scams of all kinds. It is important to be cautious especially around tax time and when stimulus checks are concerned.