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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Our Voices – Frauds, scams, and ruses target senior citizens


Why are seniors the targets of scams? Seniors are often targeted for scams because they are perceived as having more money or a large savings, are trusting, and are often new to the digital age.

Seniors are also less likely to report the crime whether from embarrassment or fearful of losing their independence.

Believe it or not, 20 to 29-year-olds have more reported fraud cases than seniors, but the financial amount loss to those 70 and older is 2 to 2 ½ times greater than the Millennials.

According to Julie Smith, Crime Prevention Specialist with Naperville Police Department, one of the top frauds seen nationally, and in Naperville, is “Imposter or Impersonation” scams. Smith indicated that “scammers will call, email, text or send mail asking you for money. People make up lots of stories on why you need to send them money. It might be that you won a prize, you owe taxes or your social security number is jeopardized. The current favorite is a problem with your Amazon account. Whatever the example or ‘story’ is, they need you to send them money right away.”

There are countless scams, but a clue to spotting and stopping a scam is knowing how they tell you to pay.

“Scammers want to get your money as quickly as possible, and they don’t want you to be able to get it back,” warns Smith.

A favorite method of payment of scammers are gift cards or cards that you can reload with money. They tell you to purchase a gift card and want the activation numbers off the back. Often, they will stay on the line while you purchase the card, and once you give the activation number the money is gone and not traceable. Scammers ask for gift cards from so many different places such as I-Tunes, Amazon, Target and Apple.

The same principle applies if they want a wire transfer: once the wire goes through, your money is next to impossible to get back.

All these scammers are out of the country in places such as India, Nigeria, China, Brazil, Romania and Pakistan.

And they are extremely convincing. Their stories are well rehearsed and believable.
“Their full-time job is to swindle you out of money, and they will do that any way they can,” says Smith.

Next month this topic will be continued with a focus on “ruse burglaries.”

Find more information on scams on the City of Naperville’s website, www.naperville.il.us.

Carpe Diem!

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Arlene Orr
Arlene Orr
Arlene Orr is a Naperville resident and member of the Naperville Senior Task Force.