In-Person Scams and Digital Fraud: Burgeoning Forms of Elder Abuse

Mar 3, 2014

Like most people, today’s elderly citizens are using Facebook, Craigslist, online dating sites and email—which leaves them more susceptible than ever before to scams and fraud. Nowadays, 1 in 20 older persons nationwide indicate some form of recent financial mistreatment.

Identity theft. Investment fraud. Cyber scams. Phone calls from criminals posing as grandchildren who claim to be in a bind, and need money wired, urgently. Marianna Stacy, community outreach educator at Wilmington’s Brightmore retirement community, says the people behind scams like these are becoming increasingly sophisticated—which means seniors and their loved ones must follow suit in order to outsmart them.

"We’ve heard stories of how they look through the obituaries to find widows or widowers who are still in grief, and who are susceptible to something, and will actually approach them at their front door--or standing at the clothesline, or out by their mailbox—with, you know, something fraudulent: a scam that sounds very, very real."

To provide the public with insight into how scam artists select and target their victims, the Cape Fear Elder Abuse Prevention Network is assembling speakers including U.S. postal inspectors, Medicare coordinators, sheriffs, attorneys and bank officials.

***The Cape Fear Elder Abuse Prevention Network—a coalition of law enforcement and human services agencies—will be hosting a local “Modern Times, Modern Crimes” event to boost awareness during mid-May. For more information, call (910)395-4553.