Elderly Getting Scammed
t’s a story that happens all too often. Angie Kennard’s father had met someone on a dating website, and the woman quickly began pouring her heart out to the 79-year-old despite never meeting him in person. During the exchanges, the woman started requesting money to support her and her daughter, and that “support” blossomed into $700,000 over the course of a couple years.
While most scams may not be as severe this one, the act of scamming elderly people is a massive problem in the United States. Scams that start on the Internet are becoming more and more frequent among this population, too, especially as Internet-savvy folks start to age.
Before we get into how to prevent these scams, let’s discuss how and why seniors get scammed as well as how frequently it happens.
Seniors Getting Scammed, by the Numbers
Scammers do not discriminate when it comes to who they try and get money out of: rich, poor, black, white, 65 and healthy, 85 and ailing. They’ll try and take money from anyone.
The American Journal of Public Health estimates that about 5 percent of the elderly population (which equates to around two to three million people) suffer from some sort of scam every year. “What’s worse, it’s very likely an underestimate,” said David Brune, a professor at the University of Toronto. This is most likely because it’s expected that a large percentage of Internet scams go unreported.
Scamming the elderly is a multi-billion dollar business for people around the U.S. that drains the elderly of their retirement funds and government benefits. The Orlando Sentinel (using a Department of Justice report) points out that elderly people lose out on about $3 billion to scammers every year.
Less conservative estimates project that seniors lose up to $36 billion every year. The Sentinel also reported (based on Federal Trade Commission report) that the median amount that someone over 80 lost was over $1,000 and the median amount someone between 70 and 79 lost was over $600.