U.S. Attorney’s Office Promotes DOJ’s Elder Justice Initiative at a Cumberland County Senior Center
FAYETTEVILLE –The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina promotes the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative by conducting outreach and educating older adults at the Blue Street Senior Center about the latest scams so they do not fall victim.
The Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative aims to combat the financial exploitation of our senior citizens by expanding efforts to investigate and prosecute financial scams that target seniors, educate older adults on how to identify scams and avoid getting ripped off by scammers, and promote greater coordination with law enforcement partners.
According to statistics collected by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center victims lost $2.71 billion dollars to fraud in 2018, and victims over the age of 60 lost $649,227.724.
Some examples of financial fraud targeting seniors discussed during the presentation were:
- Affinity Fraud – in which the scammer pretends to have some connection to the senior or a basis for establishing trust, such as being a member of the same cultural, racial, ethnic, or religious community.
- Prize Scam – also known as “lottery scam” in which the scammer claims you won a prize or lottery money but you have to pay a “processing fee” or taxes before you can claim the prize.
- Grandparent Scam – where the scammer convinces seniors that their grandchild is in trouble and needs money to pay rent, bills, unexpected car repairs, or even money for bail.
- Tech Support Scam – in which seniors may be surfing the internet and a pop-up appears claiming the computer is infected with a virus and is designed to get access to your computer.
- Romance Scam – where scammers start an online romantic relationship and lull victims into believing they need funds for a visit to the U.S. or some other purpose.
- Government Imposter Scam – where scammers threaten immediate arrest if money is not paid.
Some tips shared with the participants on how to avoid falling victim to a financial scam were:
- Don’t share personal information with anyone you don’t know.
- Don’t pay a fee for a prize or lottery winning.
- Don’t click on pop-up ads or messages.
- Delete phishing emails and ignore harassing phone calls.
- Don’t send gift cards, checks, money orders, wire money, or give your bank account information to a stranger.
- Don’t fall for a high-pressure sales pitch or a lucrative business deal.
- If a scammer approaches you, take the time to talk to a friend or family member.
- Keep in mind that if you send money once, you’ll be a target for life.
- Remember, it’s not rude to say, “NO.”
- A good rule of thumb is, if it’s too good to be true, it’s likely a scam.
Robert J. Higdon, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, stated “By targeting older adults, scammers take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We will continue to be vigilant in prosecuting these scammers, but we want to arm our older population with the proper knowledge to recognize the signs of financial fraud schemes so they will not become a victim. This is a priority of the Department of Justice and of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.”
For more information about DOJ’s efforts to prevent and combat elder abuse, please visit the Elder Justice Website at https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice. Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. You can also contact the Victim Connect Hotline between 9am-6pm, Monday through Friday, at: 1- 855-4VICTIM (1-855-484-2846), or contact the Elder Justice Coordinator at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina at (919) 856-4530.