News Flash

The Safety Zone

Posted on: March 2, 2023

March Safety Zone, By Cpl. Mike Johnson: "Scams That Target Seniors"

Aleen Karakashian Photography-2723

Scams are ever revolving and ever changing.
What worked a few years ago, doesn’t work quite as well as folks get wise to it, and as the scam changes, it will come around again. What doesn’t change is the target group, our seniors.
 You may ask why is the group so frequently targeted? 
Many people think the obvious answer is because some may be forgetful or too nice. This maybe the case for some, of course. The real reason this group is targeted so frequently is because today’s seniors are living longer than ever and have prepared for their future with investments for retirement with lucrative nest eggs. One reason the scam is so successful is because of emotions involved. 
One of these emotions is fear. Fear of what the scammer is threatening. It could be the scammer is threatening jail time while portraying to be the police and you have missed a court date, or portraying to be the power company and you didn’t pay a bill, so your power will be cut off. 
The list goes on and on.
Another reason scammers are so successful is they play on the emotion of excitement. You have just won three, five, or $
10 million dollars! How life changing this will be for me and my family! But for a small processing fee of three or four thousand dollars, we can get this payment rushed to you so you can start enjoying your windfall.
 Sound familiar? These predators will play on every emotion to get what they want without remorse and will leave you penniless.
One of the scams we investigate the most are greed-based. That is when the scammer invites the target to an unbelievable investment that will pay a 20 to 30 percent investment return. Or solicits through social media for Bit Coin opportunities that will set you up for life and make you richer than you ever thought! Or an employment opportunity where you don’t have to do anything and have wealth beyond your dreams.
As scary or exciting as these stories appear, none are real. NONE! There are no lotteries seeking you out. There are no police calling you to collect on fines. The Social Security Administration is not suspending your Social Security number. The IRS does not call wanting payment or threaten jail. 
Scams that come through social media, phone calls, emails, and texts are the preferred method these days. It’s called phishing - the scammer casts a wide net and sees who bites. The scammer will gain information by asking questions like, “Let me verify your name and address?” or “What is your date of birth and social security number?” 
Scammers will then tell someone on the phone that they are the person they seek. They begin the scam by threatening action or begin the pitch on the unbelievable money someone has won or an opportunity before them. 
A scammer will try to get as much money as possible on the initial call, mostly in the form of gift cards. They will try to get access to your bank account information and passwords and drain your accounts. Additional damage can come if a scammer has your personal information.
According to the latest FBI statistics, seniors over 60 lost approximately $3.3 billion dollars to scammers in 2020, that’s an increase of $1.5 billion dollars from 2019. One in four adults over 60 will be scammed. Unscrupulous companies take advantage of seniors to the tune of $10 to $13 billion dollars per year, according to insurance reports.
It’s important to remember that scammers will go door to door with their pitches. Never open the door to anyone you are not expecting. Talk to them through the door, tell them you are not interested. Report their activity to your local police. In the City of Lilburn, door to door sales are prohibited and subjects can be charged with a local ordinance.
One scheme is emerging with solar panel companies. Subjects go door to door and promise that their company can lower your electric bill to $50 monthly with the solar panels they sell. They get the owner information and the lender approves a loan between $46,000 to $50,000 on the spot. The company installs the solar panels that do not work, and the owner is on the hook for $300 per month in addition to what they already pay for electricity. This is a growing concern seen throughout the metro Atlanta area.
Scammers pray on the trustworthiness of seniors because they know a handshake once meant something. Your word was your bond. Be aware of young people that want to suddenly be your friend and ask personal questions regarding your situation. 
Predators have been known to meet with senior groups in churches or centers where seniors gather. Seniors that live alone or are isolated are especially vulnerable to scammers. If you are a caregiver for a loved one that is a senior, be involved with their activities and know who they talk to. Be aware of mail coming to them. Look for questionable companies that have names similar to legitimate charities. 
If you can get only get one thing from this article, NEVER EVER pay anything with a gift cards! This is a scam and someone is about to steal your money that won’t be recovered. NEVER give out personal information or respond to online ads or messages through social media or email. Contact your local police and report any suspicious activity.
Stay safe Lilburn!

"Scams That Target Seniors"
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