EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The FBI is warning El Pasoans to look out for financial scams targeting the elderly.
The elderly population is growing, and the FBI says seniors are losing more than $3 billion annually to elder fraud.
According to Special Agent Mallory Nebrich from the FBI’s El Paso Division, elder fraud is an increasingly serious issue the community must be aware of.
“Being labeled one of the crimes of the century due to Baby Boomers and their parents,” says Nebrich, “retiring with significant assets, it’s estimated that this will be one of the greatest transfers of wealth within the next 20-30 years.”
Elder fraud disproportionately targets older populations over the age of sixty that Nebrich says is targeted because of their unique financial situation.
“Many of these elders have pensions, retirement accounts, savings, they may be receiving social security,” Nebrich told KTSM 9 News.
Oftentimes seniors have houses that are paid off, as well as excellent credit, which makes seniors desirable targets to cybercriminals.
The FBI says another reason seniors are targeted is because they are generally more trusting and polite than younger generations, and are more susceptible to being tricked by fraudsters.
Nebrich says that oftentimes elder fraud is under-reported because the victims feel embarrassed or ashamed by having been scammed.
Types of elder fraud schemes include catfishing romances, lottery, and sweepstakes scams.
The FBI says one major red flag for a scam is if a “sweepstakes” asks the winner to pay them any amount of money.
Elders can protect themselves by being able to recognize scam attempts, and then cease all communication with the suspected cybercriminal. Additionally, seniors should be comfortable resisting pressure to react quickly because scammers create a sense of urgency to disarm their target.
For more information on how to avoid elder fraud, you can click here.