According to the NCOA (National Coalition on Aging), the top 10 scams involving elderly targets are as follows:
- Health Care/Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud.
Example: criminals pose as Medicare or healthcare employees.
- Counterfeit Prescription Drugs.
Example: victims buy prescriptions over the Internet to save money, then receive unsafe, unapproved drugs which result in serious health issues, and sometimes even death.
- Funeral & Cemetery Scams.
Example: criminals will call
the grieving relative of the deceased, claiming they had an unpaid debt, and try to extort money; or funeral homes will charge unnecessarily high fees to unknowing victims.
- Fraudulent Anti-Aging products.
Example: fake Botox injections. Make-shift labs create fake Botox but use the real main ingredient, which is one of the most toxic substances known, and the victim receives an injection of the unapproved drugs—with horrible results.
- Telemarketing/Phone Scams. Example: criminals pose as a grandchild or other relative who just had an accident or was unlawfully jailed and needs money wired immediately. IRS scams are HUGE right now. Criminal call random numbers, threatening enforcement action unless the victims pay money owed to the “IRS”. Fake charity scammers also place calls after natural disasters.
- Internet Fraud.
Example: Phishing– criminals pose as a legitimate company, or even the IRS, and ask individuals to verify and update personal information, which is later used fraudulently by the criminal.
- Investment Schemes.
Example: criminals target seniors who are looking to safeguard their cash and use pyramid schemes or promises of quick financial growth through complicated investment strategies.
- Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage Scams.
Example: a scammer will offer other property or money in exchange for the title to the victim’s home and the victim ends up losing their home.
- Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams.
Example: victim is told they won a prize and receives a check, which eventually bounces, but in the meantime the victim sends money to cover the prize ‘fees and taxes.’
- The Grandparent Scam. Example: criminal calls an elderly victim posing as their grandchild in need of financial assistance, but insists they not tell his/her parents as they will get into trouble. This is especially notorious as the criminal plays on the victim’s heartstrings.