10 Scams Perpetrated On Seniors – Part 1
10 Scams That Senior Adults Must Be Aware Of
During the past few years, senior adults have been the primary target of various financial scams, to such extent, that it’s been suggested that this is the major crime of the 21st century. For some reason, con men and women have the mistaken idea that seniors are all wealthy, and have large sums of money at their disposal.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. With the economy in terrible condition, plus the recessions that we have suffered, many seniors have seen their nest egg dwindle to practically nothing. As a matter of fact, many have had to take on part time jobs just to make ends meet. So when some con is perpetrated on a senior adult, it can be a truly devastating crime.
These individuals who practice these scams don’t seek out only wealthy individuals. Their lack of morals causes them to approach any senior citizen and to find a way to take their money. Many times, these types of crimes go unreported because the victim is too ashamed to tell their family about it.
In these current times, many low income senior adults are targeted as well. To make this crime even worse than it actually is, it’s not always a total stranger who commits this crime. Statistics have revealed that over 90% of scams committed against the elderly, are perpetrated by their adult children, and other family members. What a disgusting, repulsive act to commit against a loved one.
There are ten (10) major scams that we will be reporting on, and because we feel that you need to know all the details, it will be a rather lengthy article. For that reason, we will report and discuss five (5) in each article. The first one to be aware of is called:
1. The Health Care – Medicare Insurance Fraud
All citizens are eligible for Medicare when they reach age 65, so one would think a scam artist would have nothing to gain in this area. Well think again…the con man or woman will sometimes pose as a Medicare representative, and go “phishing” as the term is called. They get the senior citizen to give up all personal information, such as full name, address, social security number, Medicare number, and even secondary insurance company name and policy number.
In addition to the information acquired, sometimes these individuals file false claims with Medicare for a bogus procedure, and are paid rather quickly by Medicare. They can do this on many seniors, and by the time Medicare gets wise, they move, change the name, and pocket a million dollars or more. This is why it’s very important that you review every claim procedure reported to you by Medicare.
2. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
Because the cost of prescription drugs in the USA is so high, many senior citizens and others look to the internet trying to find a lower cost alternative. This scam has been increasing in popularity because of the recession, and the fact that many individuals simply can’t afford the cost of insurance to cover prescription drugs.
Recent statistics indicate that the FDA investigates about 20 cases a year. If this is true how many fraud cases do you think aren’t investigated? The dangers in this scam are that individuals will be purchasing fake drugs that won’t help their medical condition, and may even be using some substance that can do damage to them. A double whammy on this one.
3. Cemetery and Funeral Scams
This scam validates our previous comment where we stated that scam artists have no morals. Even the FBI gets involved in this one and warns seniors about it. There are generally two different types of operation by the scam artist. In the first, he reads the obituaries and will either call the widow/widower or will attend the funeral service to look for an advantage. He will sometimes tell the grieving individual that the deceased had an unpaid debt with him, and will attempt to extort moneyy to settle the fake obligation.
In the next scam, a funeral director with no morals is involved. They take advantage of the grieving spouse who has no idea of all of the costs involved in a funeral. The most obvious one is for a cremation. Some of these unscrupulous individuals will try to charge for the cost of a burial casket instead of a one made from cardboard that is used in cremations. Also, every now and then you will read about some funeral director being caught using the bait and switch scheme. Here, an individual pays for an expensive casket that is not used for the burial. Instead, a cheaper casket goes into the ground and the expensive one is used again on someone else.
4. Fake Anti Aging Products and Procedures
Here’s one where the scam artists let our egos take over. For some reason, many senior adults don’t want to look or act their age, and instead try to fit in with the younger crowd.
Many seniors seek out medications or other procedures that guarantee them a more youthful appearance or a new found bounce in their step. This alone has brought out many scammers who practice their wares on these foolish individuals.
Most of us have heard about the fake Botox scheme a few years ago that netted the distributors over $1,500,000 in less than a year. Add to this the bogus homeopathic remedies that have no beneficial result and it’s easy to see that there is a lot of money to be made in this anti aging scam. The Botox scam can have long time effects when done by these incompetent individuals. They usually all contain part of the root ingredient, botulism neurotoxin, which is a very toxic substance, and some of the formulas developed by these renegades are still in the bodies of individuals.
This is one topic that I absolutely despise. I could write a book on this one, and what I would do to stop it. Think about it, what individual would buy something on the telephone from a total stranger and give up their personal financial information? Apparently quite a few or they wouldn’t do it!
That being said, fake telemarketers know that senior citizens, as a group, will purchase twice as much over the telephone than any other age group, so they prey upon them. For whatever reason, perhaps being lonely and wanting someone to talk to, may be why seniors are targeted for these bogus telephone schemes. They probably aren’t fully aware of the risks involved as well, and fall to these scams. Doing business on the telephone doesn’t have any face to face interaction, nor does it create a paper trail, so it usually is very difficult to prosecute.
To make matters worse, as soon as a scammer is successful in his scheme, the mark’s name is passed around to other scammers who continue to defraud the victim. One of the oldest scams in this category is the “Pigeon Drop” that is usually conducted by a pair of con men. One of the con men befriends you and while you are chatting, the second con man approaches and tells his associate that he just found a bag with a very large sum of money in it. One of them suggests that it be split three ways, and since they don’t know you, they ask that you make a good faith deposit that just about equals your share. When the money is split, you will get your deposit back along with your share of the found money.
Once you make your deposit, you all agree to meet at the banker’s office a little later, after he makes a preliminary investigation. When you return later at the designated place, the two con men are gone along with your good faith deposit.
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I think telemarketers who prey on people – especially the elderly – should be hunted down and thrown in the darkest jail cell available. I walked in on my grandmother giving her bank account number to someone on the phone! I took the phone and hung it up before she gave the last few numbers and she had no idea who she was even talking to – only that they were making her a promise about cash they’d never keep!
I have a good cure for these telemarketing con men but I can’t put it into print. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.
Disgusting, simply disgusting, to think people work hard all their lives only to be cheated out of their savings and retirement like this. I think those fake anti-aging products and procedures should be banned and those selling them prosecuted.
I hadn’t heard of some of these, I hope this post reaches at least one person and prevents them from falling victim to these kind of disgusting scams.
I am definitely going to share this post on Facebook and LinkdIn because I think more people should know about these scams. It’s terrible the way some people think now days.
Of all of these, the Medicare scams disturb me the most. It’s easy to see how someone would fall for it – when insurance representatives call, it’s almost always a stranger, and if the scammer has taken even just a little time to learn insurance protocols, they can easily sound legitimate. Even when dealing with real insurance representatives, they often ask for sensitive and identifying info over the phone, so how would a person know that they’re not just giving their life away?
Sadly even telemarketers are trained to take advantage of people like the elderly. It’s a sad world indeed when people are doing something like this
Counterfeit prescription drugs are a great concern, as you clearly state often they contain harnful substances, let alone not helping the condition at all. I am at a loss as to understand the people who can do this to elderly people.
Sad to say that this is only the tip of the iceberg. I could have added so many more that the elderly are subject to on a daily basis. As I mentioned in in an earlier comment, I would love to be in charge of determining the punishment for those criminals that are caught.
I have heard of several of these scams, but definitely not all of them. I am wondering if perhaps the seniors are an easy target for scammers, not because of having a lot of money, but because they are quicker to trust people, and may be more gullible. For a fact, when the seniors of today were kids, most people were actually trustworthy, so why would they think different? It is good when seniors take the warnings they get seriously, and are not too quick to trust strangers.
Good post. I have to assume you’re correct as to the logic scammers and con artists use to target the elderly. I’m just turning 60 and I’ve noticed an increase in phishing email attempts by Nigerians, those ‘cheap drug’ sellers, retirement deals. and so on.
No one phones me anymore. I have an app that I can activate when telemarketers call that sends out squealing dial up Internet connection sounds or fax machine connection noise. This causes the autodialer disconnect and delete the number, and live telemarketers to suffer momentary hearing loss because I have it turned up full volume.
Email scams are my main pain. I regrettably used my main email address to register on some retirement and ex-pat communities… so I have only myself to blame. But I’ve found a way to entertain myself at the expense of these con men. I respond with fake profiles and financial information. I know they get all excited when they receive my information because they actually get back to me to let me know the bank account or credit card number I gave them contains a typo. Most offer to call me to ‘help’ with my application or registration. I suppose they assume a sucker is nibbling at the bait and want to set the hook fast.
But unfortunately, most seniors are not as worldly as I, and seem to think the days when it was safe to leave a door unlocked or the keys in the ignition still exist. It’s nice to know people still have that level of trust in strangers, but it’s usually very ill advised to exercise it.
Thanks for your interesting comment. I think perhaps I should have had you write this post. I like your telephone app. Yes, email scams are very prevalent, mainly because many of the elderly are too trusting, and will click any link and volunteer personal information. I too, will have some “fun” once in a while with a scammer, and lead them down a path to nowhere.
My mother is 68 y/o and healthy, and insists on remaining on her own. She lives in a gated community that is relatively safe from street crime, break ins, home invasions, and so on. But telemarketer conmen and direct mail scams can penetrate any community’s security. I dread the day one of these scum connect with her because, although she is in control of her mental facilities, she is far too trusting. I’ll be emailing her links to both part 1 and 2 of this excellent information.
Things like this actually make me sick in my stomach and it’s so sad to see these poor people get scammed so often!
Our oldest daughter works at a grocery store in the customer service department, and often has terrible stories about elderly people coming in with information and cash they are sending through Western Union to pay for millions of dollars or expensive houses and cars and diamonds they supposedly won.
It’s a shame too, because sometimes the employees don’t seem to care, and I know of a few times that our daughter started to explain why what they were doing is wrong, and how it’s a scam, and the people who are being scammed will argue and complain and demand she sends it through because it is their prize and they know they won because of some ridiculous mailing or call they received.
She did go to managemnet several times, and sadly, they explain to her that she isn’t allowed to stand there and try to argue with the people who are sending money, whether she knows it is a scam or not.
She was able to call Western Union once and retrieve this woman’s money, but she did get into a bit of trouble when she hung up with them. (with her manager)
It shocks me to hear her stories, to hear how many people are being hurt terribly because of scams. While I also understand the store manager, I wish they had a policy to be able to alert people when they may be sending money to a possible scam artist.
With the amount of posts on networks like Facebook, that describe different scas, through email, telephone, and regular mail, you would think there would be stricter oenalties on such a thing. But I guess most are outside of the country and how do we control that?
A friend of mine’s mom had a lot of telemarketers calling her and she would try to get them off the phone or wouldn’t understand them so she ended up giving them her information and they charged them for extra services and a lot of other things. My friend didn’t even realize it until after her mother died when she started going through the mail and all her things. She apparently had been getting charged almost $1000 a month for things that she didn’t know she had. Watch your elderly carefully and help them to understand how careful they need to be and if they don’t understand fully, don’t give them your information.
This is really bad, people will work very hard, only to be cheated by some lazy dudes. Thanks for sharing
People who scam seniors are the lowest form of pond scum on earth. My 80 year old mother is under a constant barrage of phone calls and door knockers. This crime should carry a life sentence…
Interesting info here. I didn’t realize that senior citizens purchase twice as much over the phone than any other age group. The key advice here is to beware of telemarketers. Another important scam talked about in this article is Medicare Insurance Fraud. Be very careful and make sure that the Medicare representative is legit or else they will obtain all your personal information for their advantage. Great article