Senior Scams

  • Amy

Senior citizens should be aware of fraud schemes because they are an easy target. Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to scam artists. People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.

Older Americans are also less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs. For this reason alone, many elders just rather take the hit of whatever the lost to the scammer.

When an elderly victim does report the crime, memories, poor eye slight often make them poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ might take longer after contact with the fraudster to fully realize or believe they have been scammed. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.

Senior citizens are more susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim. Your mind believes in many unrealistic things when you are desperate. Being desperate makes you an easy target.

Additional Resources on Frauds Impacting Seniors:

Resources from the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging