Scams against seniors come with every imaginable kind of made-up stories and details. For many, the bottom line is: If you have to give someone money (or confidential financial information) to get money, you should beware! Some common scams:
Foreign lotteries are notorious for sending seniors announcements and also calling them on the phone to say that they have won fabulous sums of money. The catch is, the “winner” is asked to wire money for fees and taxes. No legitimate lottery or sweepstakes collects money up front from winners. The request for cash, in any form, is a dead giveaway. Remember, the scammers are now sending counterfeit cashier’s checks to make the scam more believable!
Identity crime is not just a problem for the elderly. But seniors are especially vulnerable because they may be dependent on caregivers for help with banking, shopping and paying bills. Using another person’s credit card, check or financial information to steal money out of that person’s account is a felony offense.
We frequently hear of home repair scams that target seniors. Unscrupulous door-to-door salesmen will sometimes start work without permission or out-right lie about the need for work and/or the cost of materials and labor. Bill collection tactics used to collect on some of these jobs (which sometimes have not even been actually performed) can sometimes border on strong-arm robbery.
The “Pigeon Drop” is one of the oldest cons in the book, but it still works. A con artist tells the victim that he or she has found a large sum of money. On some pretext (again, details vary), the con asks the elderly person to withdraw money from his or her own account. A hallmark of the classic pigeon drop is the appearance of a second con, pretending to be a trustworthy stranger who may also be posing as a lawyer or banker.