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Scams against older adults: reporting to Congress

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You might have read media stories about older people losing lots of money to scams. It does happen – and FTC data show that when people over 80 report losing money, the amount they lose is a lot higher than the amount younger people lose. But that’s not the whole story. In fact, FTC data also show that people 60 and older are great at reporting the fraud they see – and can be great at avoiding it, too. Because, according to the FTC’s 2017 data, people 60+ are much more likely to report fraud than people in their 20s – but far less likely to say they lost money.

That’s an important part of a report the FTC just sent to Congress last week. The report, “Protecting Older Consumers 2017-2018: A Report of the Federal Trade Commission, also noted the top scams where older people are more likely than younger people to report losing money (tech support scams, business imposters, prizes/sweepstakes/lottery scams, romance scams, and family/friend imposter scams).

The report talks about what the FTC is doing about fraud against older adults – including some of our law enforcement: from a case challenging phony sweepstakes, to one challenging bogus tech support, to a case over alleged claims that a product could treat everything from arthritis to memory loss. And it covers our Pass it On campaign, which focuses on older adults and gives them the information they need to start a conversation about scams with family and friends.

The idea of Pass It On is central to the FTC’s work on older adults: talk about scams. Tell someone, because you’re less likely to fall for a scam that you’ve talked about. And then tell the FTC, because – in both cases – you might help someone else avoid that scam. And, like the cases mentioned above, we might be able to put a stop to it all together. So go to to tell your scam story.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


I lost $5,700 on a supposed lotto/ publishers clearing house. The used a church member to to convince me. Be careful from posts from people you have known in the past.

I am 72 and was using Lifeline as free phone service. I was using Tracfone or Safelink. The company used an excuse to cancel my enrollment to the Lifeline program and was making it difficult for me to re-enroll. It started with a complaint to the BBB when I said I was enrolled and proved it but company trumped me by sending me required documentation to re enroll. I sat on it. I was confused why the BBB says nothing when I provided proof and let company do as it wants. Now Safelink is sending me ads about paying for the privilege of using their service. That because I was cancelled as a Lifeline member I can still use their service but I have to pay for it. Even if it is not really costly I was made a fool of anyway. How do you like that??????

Thank you as always for a job well done. I am 72 years old and I will pass this information on. I do appreciate your newsletters on the latest scams.

This is great and all, but when my mom was scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the FBI & FTC didn't bother to respond or acknowledge our repeated complaints. Even if you're only aggregating data, it would be nice to get some kind of response, otherwise it feels like reporting anything is a waste of time and energy.

Agree with you. Great article. I've had a similar experience reporting a scam--no response. I suspect us "little people" don't rate because the dollar amounts don't reach a certain threshold.

The problem is we're never told that we "don't qualify" for the assignment of man hours and monetary costs associated with running down these crooks.

And yet, I believe every report adds to the collective, somehow. When one scammer or group of scammers get shut down it benefits us all. Even though the loss of money can't be recouped doing our part to report every instance of criminality is a good thing.

BTW: My loss was $30,000.00. No a huge sum by comparison to the million dollar victims but it represented my life savings at the time.

When I was 78 I lost $376,500 to a scam by 2 people saying they were from the FDIC. I reported it to the FBI and FTC and received no response from either of them. Even the police detective investigating my well documented claim was unable to get a response from the FBI.

I Got scammed thru facebook and they said there were theFBI and if I didnt send 14000 dollars I would be arrested ,Isnt that extorsion and you are right they dont carew what happened or how.they dont want to know the whole story .make you think about changing professions.

I agree, my husband was scammed out of 62k I reported it to the the Federal Trade Com. and the local FBI He was scammed with someone disguising himself as the SSI Federal Investigation dept. regarding my husband SS# being stolen.. (right at the time My husband had left several msg with the SSI for questions) then we get this person saying he was from the SS office the timing was perfect to be stolen from. NO ONE FROM EITHER DEPT FOLLOWED UP WITH US, OR TRIED TO HELP US WITH IF THIS PERSON REALLY DID WORK FOR THE SS OFFICE. Very Disappointed

Good article.Unfortunately we have a police force in this town of 28,000 people that could not solve a crime if you gave them the evidence.They are good at getting special details and corruption tho.They are good at theft too.I have notified the FBI of the situation.I hope they are not too busy to correct.

BANK OF NYC <catia@ cmgrafica. it>
To: Elaineu Oct 18 at 1:22 PM From The Desk of: Dr Charles Holliday Jr.. Bank of America. Branch Offices New York
1680 Broadway, New York. NY 10019, USA. Vice Chairman on Investment Banking Director, Credit Control Dept.
We are hereby officially notify you concerning your fund telegraphic Transfer through our bank, Bank of America, New York, to your bank account, which has been officially approved by the management of World Bank Swiss(WBS) to credit the sum of US$18.5 Million into your bank account. Note that I have started processing your payment and every thing concerning
the immediate remittance of your funds will be carried out within the shortest possible time from the time we received your? Below needed information Also be informed that the Governor of Bank in London (BL) will sign on your payment advice and a copy of the advice will be sent to the World Bank in
Swiss for some record purposes. Meanwhile your information and your full contact details were received from our research manager, Barr.Paul Peterson on your behalf to FRB for immediate release of your fund This fund was part of the lodged Late President Saddam Hussein of Iraq discovery fund with World Bank of Switzerland, which the Swiss Bank has decided to distribute it generously to help few lucky individuals and the
American Government is in agreement with the Swiss Bank to distribute the fund to 700 hundred thousand people in America, Europe & Asia in other to help improve their businesses.
Therefore, reconfirm the aforesaid information accurately, because this office cannot afford to be held liable for any wrong transfer of funds or liable of any fund credited into an unknown account. These are the information we needed to be reconfirmed by you. 1.Your Full Bank Account Details
2.Your Direct Cell or office phone to reach you 3.Your address of locations 4.Your full name Finally, you are required to reconfirm directly to me the above information to enable me use it to process your bill of payment. Your quick response shall be mostly appreciated; all your response should be directed through our alternative email address for the immediate attention of the credit control department. Yours Faithfully,
Dr Charles Holliday Jr.. Vice Chairman, Director, Credit /Telex Department. Click here to visit my page!

He is trying to get your bank account number and other personal information.

many older seniors have untrained people sent into their homes for home making. these workers steal medication pills and and money. We need help because companies don't care. They are getting their money.

who would you contact if indeed you were scammed?

You can report scams to the FTC at The information you give us goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

I'd make a complaint with and my local police department.

Something has to be done about these "spoofing" calls we continue to get. The most disturbing thing was that our home number and name showed up on our called Id. We hope that does not mean that the "spoofers" will start using our home number to do their scams.

The same thing happened to me a month or so ago. I didn't answer but I also wondered the same thing. Didn't report to FTC because really didn't know WHAT to report.

Anytime your getting a call of any kind you feel is a spoof, tell the person on the other line oh hang on I'm going to record this call. As I'm always getting calls the government wants to give me thousands but i have to send a fee. No i don't and no the government isn't giving you any money unless you legally applied. This will get rid of your scammer as soon as they think your recording of course there will be that one that will still try DO NOT EVER SEND ANYONE MONEY FOR ANYTHING THAT YOU DON'T KNOW THERE ARE ALOT OF THESE SCAMS IN THE USA AND THESE PEOPLE ARE FROM BENIN FROM WHAT I'VE SEEN.

For about four weeks now I've been getting dozens of emails (the first one in my in box, I marked it junk, and from then on in my junk folder, that I delete regularly) from different names stating that they know a password of mine (which in fact was one, that I changed immediately). The language is always similar: "Let me get to the point: I know this is your password . ..." I'm asked to pay a couple of thousand dollars into a bitcoin account - address given - or else they will send dirty pictures of me to all my contact addresses. I opened only the first email, the others I deleted. I did not pay anything of course. Thank you

When I read governmental reports of senior ripoffs the article veers off and starts to cite the infamous ones of lotteries, vacations, miracle cures ad nauseam. The reality is seniors cumulatively get ripped off of more money by local tradesmen, retailers and medical groups and nothing can be done to stop it because the agencies and organizations which protect consumers are ageists. They justify this nonfeasance using the same prejudices " ... he or she is just a crazy old person..." or "...why bother - they'll probably be dead or forget in 6 months...." The Feds are fully aware of the local vs national newsworthy scams - the Feds are pulling off the biggest scam on elders by alleging " WE CARE FOR THE WELFARE OF THE ELDERLY."

Yesterday I received an FTC email about "Charity Frauds" but was denied access to reading the article. No idea why. Couldn't "chat" as it didn't connect to anyone. I ended up finally leaving a report and was issued a case/claim number of some sort via email, but haven't heard anything further. I now wonder if voicing my concerns about a scam my insurance agent and my medicare being changed is worth bringing to your attention?!!

You can tell the FTC about that at The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. You can also contact Medicare at 1-800-Medicare or report to the Office of Inspector General at Medicare at spoof @ oig. hhs. gov

I too received an FTC e-mail on "Charity Fraud" and also denied access. I checked the domain it came from and it appears to be from the the legit FTC. What's up here?

Spooffing calls are a pain. Too many unwanted phone calls. Caller ID does help. Have had calls showing our name and number on Caller ID -- this should be illegal. Hope they cannot call other people as someone stated above using your info. That is scary. Also, people coming into the house to work either to clean your house or to take care of a senior. It's hard to find someone that you can trust because many of them have sticky fingers but I'm sure there also are some good ones out there who are honest.

I am 78 years old and spent $599 to fix my computer when an alarm came up on the screen. It was a scam from an outfit called Then my 83 year old husband lost over $9000 from an outfit helping secure a prize from Publisher's Clearing House through wire transfers. They call from Jamaica I found out later, which also meant a $1000 bill from AT&T who could care less.

Over the last 3 months, I became indebted for $3,000. I fell for the same scam two (2) times during those 3 months. The 2nd time, it was a long-time friend on Facebook that emailed me and told me about a $90,000 home remodel grant. Turns out it turned into a person wanting me to buy iTunes cards. I thought it was legitimate IN SPITE OF having already been scammed with this scam because I THOUGHT MY FRIEND was recommending it. My friend does not answer me through her legitimate email account and she has blocked me on Facebook. I am wondering if that was truly her or if someone is using her profile to scam. There's no way of contacting Facebook directly and that is very frustrating. I do not believe they should be so difficult to contact even though they are dealing with people in a couple of dozen or more countries. I talked to a local FBI agent over the phone and filed a complaint with them. He assured me they will work on my complaint even though he will not be the agent that gets my complaint. I filed the complaint. The FBI agent knows that I was scammed and did not blame me for getting scammed. When I called my credit card company who did not stop charges on my credit card once it hit my credit limit tried to call me a co-conspirator. He was very nasty. They expect me to pay $3,000+ even though they NEVER declined payment on the charges that started to exceed my credit limit. WHAT IS A CREDIT LIMIT FOR IF IT'S NOT TO TAKE A PAUSE IN APPROVING CHARGES THAT GO OVER THE CREDIT LIMIT? I did not EVER have a spending spree on my credit card and they should have immediately found a red flag with the repetitive charges over short periods of time and declined the rest of my purchases that went over my credit limit. They did not. I never used my credit card as I did a couple of weeks ago within about a 15 minute period of time and that did not cause my credit card to start declining my purchases. It was TOTALLY not at all fitting the pattern of my use of that credit card. I have an appointment to see a lawyer.

I'm 74 and like to consider myself savvy when it comes to scams, but I have to admit that I was taken in by a scam and it was only my husband's skepticism that prevented me from wiring money to a scammer. He checked the info and found that our grandson was fine and not stranded in a foreign country after all. I felt pretty stupid but now I'm more skeptical myself.

I am so stupid. I looked for love online and was promised to be loved and a future of happiness. But when I said I was going to take a flight to meeet him he stopped responding. I “loaned” him $48,000. 8/1/18. I will never do online dating again. I’m a widow and they come after us thinking we are rich. I am so hurt!!

Several years ago before publicity about elder scams, my nearly 90-year old Dad transferred a total of $3,500 when he received a call from his grandson from out of country, that he couldn't get back without cash being transferred, and to be sure not to tell "Mom" or anybody else in the family. My Dad told me later he was sure it was my son's voice on the phone, so he took a cash advance on a credit card to make the payment(s). In retrospect, he believed they listened in on his phone and picked up and recorded my son calling him. When he later asked if my son was back from overseas, I told him it was a scam and he should report it to Western Union, the local police, and FBI (all of whom told him they couldn't do anything but he should tell the FTC). Unfortunately it was too late to stop the transfer. It took all my will power to offer empathy without criticism and coaching as to what other things scammers were doing (e.g. tech support). He said he'd been the subject of the latter when he Was having problems with his computer, but he hadn't stayed on the phone. He first wanted to check with one of us for a phone number for Microsoft so he could see whether it was legit. One of my sibs told him that nobody from Microsoft, Symantec, or any bank or other company would call him on the phone or email him to get his personal info or any money. But she hadn't anticipated this other type of scam.

I need to find the consumer reports.

I do enjoy your news letters. A couple of years ago, I sent you info on a scam/fraud that caught me. Future Ranking dba Optimized Solutions, got me for $55,000.00+. I sent you the info and hope it is doing some good. Also, could use the money returned.:-)) Another thing that bothers me, I used to trust the BBB. Not any more! They are still rating Future Ranking with an A+. There goes my trust in the BBB. Maybe if you pay them enough, you can get a better rating? Thank You for letting me vent.

no body even cares even if you have been a partly extorsion .they wont even look at the circumstsnces. .what do investigators do any way?

Thank you for alerting us to scams.

Best way to foil a "grandma, please help". scammer---my neighbor who has no grandchildren got one of these calls and screamed into the phone, "What's wrong with you? I thought you were still in jail!"

One of the latest scams are calls ringing through a call block system. The ID could be CAPITAL ONE or SEARS or CITIBANK. How many people (seniors) have one of these cards? Many. Call seems legit they ask you for last 4 digits of your card when you respond to the call. My credit card company said they do not contact customers in that way so be careful. Do not answer and block those numbers if you are able.

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