The Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) 2022 Elder Fraud Report reveals a staggering 84% increase in total losses to seniors from the previous year’s report. Much of this loss is attributed to investment fraud involving cryptocurrency. FBI Springfield wants to educate the elderly and their family members about Internet crime in hopes of bringing awareness to this problem and preventing further victimization.
Seniors are a particularly vulnerable victim group and are often specifically targeted for financial fraud crimes. In some instances, victims’ financial accounts are drained of a lifetime of savings with little hope of recovering the funds. This can cause significant harm to elderly victims’ and their caregivers’ daily survival.
According to the report, more than 88,000 victims over the age of 60 reported losses of $3.1 billion. Technical-support fraud, where criminals trick victims into giving remote access to their computers under the guise of providing technical support, ranked second for victim loss behind investment fraud. Third on the list was Business Email Compromise—where criminals send an email message that appears to come from a known source making a legitimate request.
Illinois residents reported total losses of over $75 million, placing it 10th in the state-wide ranking.
“Crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “When criminals steal the hard-earned life savings of older Americans, we will respond with all the tools at our disposal. But in addition to our investigative efforts, the FBI is dedicated to stopping the exploitation of our seniors through community outreach and education.”
Seniors are encouraged to consider the following to avoid victimization:
- Shred credit card receipts and old bank statements.
- Disconnect from the Internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Pop-ups are regularly used by perpetrators to spread malicious software.
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door service offers.
- Don’t give out personal information via the phone, mail, or Internet unless you initiated the contact.
- Make sure all computer anti-virus and security software and malware protections are up to date.
- Talk over investments with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor.
- Require all plans and purchases to be in writing.
- Don’t pay in advance for services.
- Don’t pay for services via prepaid gift cards or cryptocurrency. Legitimate services will not request payment through these methods.
- Resist the urge to act quickly or secretly, which are frequent tactics used by scammers.