No matter who you are, there’s a pretty good chance you know or care very much for at least one senior citizen. Whether this person is a family member, a neighbor, or a person who is in your care, you know just how unsuspecting an elderly person can be. This is one of the many reasons that seniors are such prime targets for scammers. Charles R. Whitlock, an expert on the psychology of con artists, reveals three common strategies scammers use to take advantage of senior citizens.
Telltale Telemarketing Talk
According to Charles R. Whitlock, telemarketing schemes are the most common way for seniors to become victims of fraud. Seniors are less likely to hang up the phone while the caller is talking or if they don’t know the other person on the phone. This makes it easier for a con artist to keep them on the line to deliver the pitch. Telemarketing scams usually involve fake products, low-cost items, or free prizes. Warning signs may include lines such as: “Its only for a limited time, so you have to act now;” “It’s free, but you have to pay for shipping;” or “You’ll need to send money, bank account and credit card numbers, or a check by courier.” If you or a beloved senior hears these lines, it’s time to hang up the phone.
“Free” Health Care Fraud
For seniors who live on fixed incomes, medical bills can be a constant worry. Unfortunately, con artists know this. They like to offer free medical equipment, free or discounted healthcare, or even counterfeit prescription drugs. At first, the offer may sound like a good deal, but, once the money has been sent, the senior doesn’t receive the product or it’s not the one that was advertised. Other common healthcare schemes involved asking for Medicare or insurance information in order to clear up an issue with their policy. Charles R. Whitlock warns seniors to “never give out personal information to someone who has called you or who has come to your door. Carefully research medical equipment and insurance companies before committing to any proposed offers.”
Bogus Investment Schemes
Someone who has built up a respectable amount of savings for retirement might consider investing some of it to further feather a nest egg. Con artists know that seniors are highly likely to have a significant savings. They will go out of their way to convince elderly individuals to participate in fraudulent investments. They may tout reverse mortgage scams, pyramid schemes, advance fee types of fraud, property flipping scams, and other means to separate their targets from their money. Con artists often find their marks in a church or seminar setting, or they may contact seniors using mail ads or door-to-door salesmen. Charles R. Whitlock recommends speaking to a trusted, knowledgeable loved one or reputable professional such an accountant or attorney to determine if the organization is legitimate and to make sure the investment makes good financial sense.
Trust Charles R. Whitlock
Through his varied experiences as a television investigative reporter, Charles R. Whitlock has learned firsthand the strategies that con artists use to victimize their targets. He provides workshops and gives keynote addresses concerning scams against the elderly, cybercrime, business fraud, and medical fraud. He strives to educate the public by addressing organizations across the country, including the A.A.R.P., Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.), the Better Business Bureau, the Department of Health and Human Services/Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, and more. Also, as an accomplished author, he shares his knowledge through his books about white-collar crime, MediScams, Scam School, and Easy Money.