The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office is shedding light on the prevalence of elder fraud schemes and announcing the apprehension of two men involved in a timeshare scam that targeted elderly victims. In 2022 alone, adults aged 60 and above reported a staggering 88,262 complaints to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, resulting in a total loss of $3.1 billion. It’s worth noting that California leads the nation in terms of elderly victims of fraud, with reported losses reaching an alarming $624,509,520. Elder fraud refers to the exploitation of adults over 60, where perpetrators exploit or steal financial assets and personal information. Furthermore, the FBI received almost 10,000 complaints related to cryptocurrency, amounting to losses exceeding $1 billion. The recent arrest of two individuals involved in a telemarketing scheme tied to timeshares shed light on the extent of the problem, as over 370 elderly individuals fell victim to the fraud, losing a devastating $4.5 million collectively. Alongside timeshare scams, embezzlement, fraud targeting elderly physicians, and theft from bank accounts are amongst the recent cases of elder fraud that have come to light. Common schemes include investment fraud, business email compromise, romance scams, tech support fraud, and government impersonation. To mitigate the risk of victimization, it is crucial to recognize scam attempts, exercise caution when faced with unsolicited offers, and protect one’s personal information. The FBI strongly encourages individuals to report instances of fraud to 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit tips to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Raising Awareness about Elder Fraud Schemes
The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office is increasing efforts to raise awareness about elder fraud schemes, shining a light on the alarming rise of this type of criminal activity. With the aim of protecting the elderly population, the FBI is actively working to combat and prevent fraud schemes that specifically target older adults.
According to statistics from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, adults over 60 reported an astounding 88,262 complaints in 2022 alone, resulting in a staggering total loss of $3.1 billion. These numbers underscore the severity and urgency of addressing elder fraud.
California, unfortunately, stands out as a hotspot for elder fraud with reported losses reaching $624,509,520 in 2022. The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office is particularly alarmed by these numbers and is dedicated to bringing awareness to this issue within the state and beyond.
Definition of Elder Fraud
Elder fraud is a distressing form of exploitation where perpetrators take advantage of the vulnerability of older adults. This type of fraud involves the misuse or theft of financial assets or personal information from individuals aged 60 and above. Perpetrators often employ deceptive tactics to deceive and manipulate their victims, leaving them financially and emotionally devastated.
The Use of Cryptocurrency in Elder Fraud
One alarming trend that has emerged in recent years is the use of cryptocurrency in elder fraud schemes. The FBI received nearly 10,000 complaints relating to the use of cryptocurrency, with losses amounting to over $1 billion. Cryptocurrencies provide fraudsters with a way to obfuscate their identity and transfer funds discreetly, making it even more challenging for law enforcement to trace and recover stolen assets.
Arrest of Two Men in a Timeshare Scheme
In a significant development, the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office recently announced the arrest of two individuals involved in a telemarketing scheme that specifically targeted elderly victims in a timeshare fraud. The investigation revealed that over 370 elderly individuals were defrauded, resulting in a collective loss of over $4.5 million.
This case serves as a stark reminder of the devastating impact that these schemes can have on the lives of older adults. The FBI is committed to holding perpetrators accountable for their actions and bringing justice to the victims who have fallen prey to their scams.
Other Recent Cases of Elder Fraud
Unfortunately, the timeshare scheme arrest is just one example of the many cases of elder fraud that have occurred recently. Elderly individuals have been victimized through embezzlement, fraudulently obtaining money from elderly physicians, and even stealing savings from unsuspecting elderly bank customers. These incidents highlight the urgency in addressing this pervasive issue and providing robust protections for the elderly population.
Types of Elder Fraud Schemes
Elder fraud can manifest in various forms, each with its own distinct characteristics and methods of operation. Some of the most common schemes include:
Perpetrators often approach older adults with enticing investment opportunities that promise substantial returns. These schemes typically involve high-pressure sales tactics designed to exploit the victims’ trust and lack of financial knowledge. In reality, these investments are often illegitimate or nonexistent, leaving victims with significant financial losses.
Business Email Compromise
In business email compromise scams, fraudsters impersonate legitimate companies or individuals to deceive elderly victims into wiring funds or providing personal information. These scams exploit the victims’ trust in familiar businesses or acquaintances, making it difficult for them to recognize the fraudulent nature of the requests.
Romance scams prey on the emotional vulnerability of older adults, typically through online dating platforms. Perpetrators establish false romantic relationships with the victims and gradually gain their trust. Once trust is established, the fraudsters exploit their victims’ emotions to extract money or personal information.
Tech Support Fraud
Tech support fraud involves scammers pretending to be technical support representatives from well-known companies. They convince their elderly victims that their computers have been compromised, prompting them to grant remote access or provide sensitive information. These criminals use this access to steal personal and financial information or install malware on the victims’ devices.
In government impersonation scams, fraudsters pretend to be government officials or law enforcement officers, exploiting the victims’ fear and trust in the authorities. They often claim that the victims owe money or are involved in illegal activities, coercing them into making payments or providing personal information.
Tips to Avoid Elder Fraud
Preventing elder fraud begins with being informed and vigilant. Here are some essential tips to protect yourself or your loved ones from falling victim to these schemes:
Recognizing Scam Attempts
Education is key to recognizing scam attempts. Be aware of common red flags such as unsolicited requests for personal or financial information, high-pressure sales tactics, or offers that sound too good to be true. Trust your instincts and take the time to thoroughly research any unfamiliar organizations or individuals before engaging with them financially.
Being Cautious of Unsolicited Offers
Exercise caution when presented with unsolicited offers, whether via phone calls, emails, or in-person. Remember that legitimate businesses or organizations typically do not make unsolicited contact to request personal information or financial transactions. Be wary of anyone asking for sensitive information or requesting immediate payment without thorough verification.
Protecting Personal Information
Protecting personal information is crucial in preventing elder fraud. Be cautious about sharing personal information, especially identifiers such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, or passwords. Consider utilizing strong passwords and updating them regularly. Additionally, be cautious about sharing personal information on public platforms or with unfamiliar individuals online.
Reporting Elder Fraud
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to elder fraud, it is crucial to report the incident promptly. Reporting not only helps in holding perpetrators accountable but also assists in raising awareness and preventing future scams. The FBI encourages individuals to report elder fraud incidents to 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or to submit a tip to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) through their website.
By actively reporting elder fraud, together, we can help protect older adults from falling victim to these devastating schemes and ensure that justice is served.