Scams against seniors: Fighting fraud

Fraud: Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. In this blog, we’ll be looking at fraudsters’ prime targets — our seniors.

Fraud comes in all shapes and sizes, from investment swindles and suspicious phone calls to online scams and ID theft. 

Too often, seniors are the targets of these scams. There are many reasons as to why and how this takes place.

  • Generally, this generation was raised to be polite, so may be easily pressured or intimidated in a variety of fraudulent situations.
  • Seniors often have money to invest and perhaps are too trusting of others, so they go along with the crowd - often a church group or social club. There is actually a name for this – affinity fraud.
  • Many are home all day and may be lonely and isolated, so are more susceptible to fraudulent phone calls or scammers coming to the door. Many people, not just seniors, are still being taken in by the CRA telephone scam – to the tune of millions of dollars. 
  • Many seniors, like my 92-year-old mother, are not very tech savvy, so could be more susceptible to online scams.
  • Many seniors still have all their bills, including credit card statements, come to their mailbox, which could be stolen and the information used to commit fraud.

It’s easy to believe all this when you read stories in the paper, like how a bank teller in Drumheller was given a nine-month jail sentence for defrauding seniors, aged 78 to 89, of their savings. Or the woman who posed as a health care worker to gain access to senior residences, then stole money and wallets as well as other belongings. In this case, the average age of her victims was 80.

Finally, once they have been defrauded, seniors are often too embarrassed to say anything. They don’t want to get their “friends” in trouble, or somehow feel it was their fault that the fraud happened. In some cases, seniors have fragile health issues or some level of diminished capacity, including failing memories, such that they make poor witnesses for criminal proceedings. These are all the things that fraudsters count on and are vital to keep in mind if you are helping care for a senior family member or friend.

Ask to be involved in any major financial transactions and above all keep communicating with senior family members and friends. Some say it takes a village to raise a child, and I think it takes a village to support seniors fighting fraud.

KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING

Senior citizens are now the biggest target for fraud. How can we stop these fraudsters? And, conversely, how do we help seniors fight them? Post a comment below.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada

About the Author

Trudy Brodner, CPA, CMA

Trudy is currently retired after working many years in the oil and gas industry, a law firm and as an independent financial advisor.