Internet scams against older adults are on the rise


Every year, thousands of older Americans fall victim to senior scams. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), people over the age of 60 lost more than $1.68 billion to scams in 2021.

Faced with this reality, the FBI Washington Regional Office launched a campaign to educate older adults, their caregivers, and their families about related fraud schemes, including so-called “romance scams,” tech support, or reselling scams. of timeshare properties.

“Senior scams target some of the most vulnerable people in this country, devastating them financially and often emotionally,” said Special Agent Wayne A. Jacobs of the FBI Washington Regional Office’s Criminal and Cyber ​​Division. “The FBI and our partners are committed to educating older Americans and their caregivers about these heartbreaking scams to prevent them from happening. You can only protect yourself and your loved ones if you know how to recognize and report fraud,” he added.

Criminals target people over the age of 60 because they tend to be financially stable, more confident and less likely to report crimes.

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In romance scams (also known as trust scams), criminals create fake profiles on dating sites or social media platforms to build relationships with victims. They take advantage of these relationships to manipulate and rob victims, often breaking their hearts, Jacobs said.

Romance scams are one of the most common scams reported to the FBI, an agency that gave the following suggestions:

  • Think twice before sharing personal information online. Fraudsters can use data shared on dating sites and social media platforms to better target victims.
  • Beware of online suitors who try to isolate you from family or friends or ask you to send inappropriate photos or financial information that they could later use to extort money from you.
  • Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met in person.

Non-delivery / Non-payment

In so-called non-delivery schemes, a buyer – the victim – pays a seller for a product but never receives it. In non-payment schemes, the roles are reversed: a seller – the victim – sends a product to a buyer but never receives payment.

Many older Americans have recently fallen victim to no-delivery/no-payment schemes because the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to shop online for the first time.

Some of those victims reported ordering merchandise through advertised links on social media and receiving nothing or receiving something other than the advertised product.

The FBI offers the following protection tips:

  • Before making a purchase online, check to see if the retailer and their website are legitimate.
  • Beware of internet sites that use top level domains like .club or .top instead of .com.
  • If possible, buy products online with your credit card because you can often dispute charges if something goes wrong.
  • Make sure transactions are secure before sharing your credit card number.

How to report

If you believe you or someone you know has been the victim of an elder fraud scheme, please file a report with the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or submitting a tip at You can also call your local FBI office.

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