Phoenix, Arizona - In light of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15, the FBI Phoenix Field Office is raising awareness about cyber scams targeting the elderly in Arizona.
Elder Fraud takes many shapes and sizes as criminal elements seek to take advantage of this vulnerable and growing population. In 2017, the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act was passed and the Department of Justice announced the Elder Justice Initiative. The mission of the Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s seniors. As such, the FBI has prioritized our efforts to address elder fraud and will continue to do so along with our partners.
According to the latest FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3 report, residents over the age of 60 made up the majority of Arizona cyber-crime victims in 2018 (1,700) and accounted for the most adjusted losses (almost $12.5 million). Here are the top 5 crimes, targeting Arizona seniors for fiscal year 2018 (according to IC3):
Top 5 Arizona crimes by victim count (ages 60+)*
Victim Count: 302
Victim Loss: $190,034.73
Type: Personal Data Breach
Victim Count: 254
Victim Loss: $442,628.73
Victim Count: 251
Victim Loss: $1,040,540.91
Type: Tech Support
Victim Count: 221
Victim Loss: $1,226,694.23
Type: Virtual Currency
Victim Count: 220
Victim Loss: $662,398.40
Top 5 Arizona crimes by financial loss (ages 60+)*
Type: Confidence Fraud/Romance
Victim Count: 128
Victim Loss: $3,210,738.42
Type: Real Estate/Rental
Victim Count: 55
Victim Loss: $1,732,043.67
Victim Count: 73
Victim Loss: $1,625,530.07
Type: Advanced Fee
Victim Count: 149
Victim Loss: $1,621,343.07
Type: Social Media
Victim Count: 199
Victim Loss: $1,525,207.25
*Statistics are from the 2018 Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) report for ages 60+, crime type definitions can be found on pages 25-27 of the IC3 report.
While anyone—young or old—can fall victim to these scams, seniors with cognitive impairment, health issues, or other concerns are at higher risk. Add that to the fact that many seniors have a set amount of money in retirement—with little ability to recover financially should fraud occur—and the results can be devastating.
If you are an older American—or a caregiver—here are some things you can do to protect you and your family:
- Contact an attorney before signing any legal document.
- Check financial statements every month for unusual activity.
- Avoid unsolicited contacts—whether by phone, email, at your door, or in-person while you are out and about. It is OK to hang up the phone, delete the email, or tell someone you are not interested and walk away.
- Be wary when someone asks you to form a company in order to open up a new bank account.
- Never give your financial details or personal information to someone you don’t know and trust, especially if you met them online.
- Be suspicious when the individual you met on a dating website wants to use your bank account for receiving and forwarding money.
- Be careful of IRS imposter/Sweepstakes scams where the fraudsters tell you that you won the lottery/sweepstakes and you have to pay taxes before you collect your winnings. This is a scam!
- A legitimate company will not ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. Do not accept any job offers that ask you to do this.
- The government will never request money or personal information from you over the phone.
If you believe you are a victim of fraud, or know a senior who may be, regardless of financial loss, immediately report the incident to your local law enforcement agency and to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.