According to the FBI's newly released 2022 Elder Fraud Report, $3.1 billion in total losses were reported by people over 60, an 84% increase over the year before, averaging $35,101 per victim.
However, from personal experience, what we've seen first hand over the past year are local seniors losing anywhere over $200,000 to over $1.5M from these new scams. This is real folks - we even went over when I was on the air with Insights on PBS.
According to the FBI Report, Hawaii ranks 38th in the country but it's really hard to tell since so many of these crimes go unreported. Our Kupuna spend their lifetime saving and I've seen it disappear in months from a convincing criminal.
What you need to know / the Takeaway
The FBI report is long - you probably don't have time to read it. Here's what you need to know:
The top scams targeting local seniors are Tech Support scams and Investment scams.
▪ Tech support scams usually come in the form of pop-ups indicating a fake infection or cold calls from scammers impersonating well-known brands such as Microsoft or Apple.
▪ Investment scams are typically initiated by social media, email and very often by personal referral, where a victim believes they are "beating the market" and unknowingly ropes in friends and family to double or triple their investments.
The FBI has good advice on what to do after an engagement:
1. Never pay anyone with crypto currency, gift cards or wire transfer. This is a big red flag.
2. Slow down. Scammers find creative ways to pressure victims into acting now. Don't! Put some time between the offer and the action. These criminals know that the more time passes between their efforts and your action, the lower their chance of success.
3. When in doubt, call a family member. This is especially important for seniors who may not be as familiar with the latest tech and thus less skeptical and more trusting of an imposter.
4. If you've sent money, call police. They may be able to halt or retrieve electronic funds transfers if caught within 12 hours. Has too much time has elapsed to get your money back? Call them anyway and provide bank and routing information. It helps them track down money mules and prevent further cyber crimes.
Special Resources for Seniors
The AARP is hosting a series of local events to help educate our Kupuna on money and how to protect it from scammers. The next event is tomorrow at the Ala Moana Hotel: https://local.aarp.org/aarp-event/aarp-hi-thinking-money-honolulu-hi-562023-jznlj664tlr.html
There is also an upcoming “Protect Yourself from Cyber Scams” seminar series across the islands. Dates and locations may be found here: https://local.aarp.org/news/protect-yourself-from-cyber-scams-at-free-aarp-hawaii-seminars-hi-2019-04-26.html
We see these scammers succeeding more than I would like. Let's make Hawaii a safer place for our seniors.
Stay safe out there.