Crimes of the 21st Century
If you search “crime of the 21st century” on the internet, what do you think would be the results? Did elder financial abuse and scams cross your mind? Unfortunately, these crimes have become so prevalent that they have earned this title. Financial scams typically go unreported, but they are incredibly devastating to many older adults and can leave them in a vulnerable position. The Dane County Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) provides consultation on cases of financial abuse of older adults to professionals in the community who serve this population. The goal is to facilitate the planning and implementation of comprehensive services to older victims of financial abuse.
Be aware of potential scams. Review the list below so you can identify a potential scam:
Medicare/health insurance scams
- Perpetrators may pose as a representative to get older individuals to give them personal information or offer to supply false services.
- Counterfeit prescription drugs
- Most commonly operated on the internet, this scam is growing in popularity. This scam introduces a secondary concern: it can be harmful to someone’s health in addition to their wallet.
- Funeral and cemetery scams
- There are two common approaches: scammers read obituaries and take advantage of those grieving by saying the deceased has outstanding debt, and disreputable funeral homes capitalize on the unfamiliarity with the costs of funeral services by adding unnecessary charges.
- Fraudulent anti-aging products
- With many individuals seeking new treatments and medications to maintain the appearance of youth, some create fake products or phony homeopathic remedies.
- Telemarketing/phone scams
- Older individuals make twice as many purchase over the phone than the national average and may be unaware of the potential risk of scams due to their familiarity with shopping over the phone.
- Internet fraud
- Pop-up browsers causing unfamiliarity and prompting to download a fake anti-virus program for a substantial cost or an actual virus that will allow scammers access to computers.
- Investment schemes
- Planning for retirement and managing savings provides a target from pyramid schemes to extravagant partnership schemes.
- Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
- Many people above a certain age own their own home and this is enticing to scammers.
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams
- Scammers inform their target that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes but need to make a payment to unlock their “prize.”
- The grandparent scam
- Scammers will call an older individual and pose as a grandchild asking for money.
If you suspect you have been the victim of a scam, do not be afraid or embarrassed to reach out to someone you trust to talk about it. You are not alone. Contact Adult Protective Services at the Dane County Department of Human Services- Area Agency on Aging at 608-261-9933 to report any suspected abuse or scams.