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Beware – Seniors are Scam Targets, especially at Christmas
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By Rick Vandekieft



Initially this month’s segment was to be financial and estate planning for seniors provided by one of London’s top accounting firms. But have you ever tried to get an accountant’s attention at this time of year?

With about 75% of Canadian companies having their year come to a close on December 31st, the inside of the accounting firms are in full flight! Everybody is moving faster than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!

One estate-planning specialist after also saying, “Sorry, no time”, made a suggestion. She said that the scam artists and fraudsters are especially busy this time of year and their favourite targets are seniors. She asked us to warn you, our readers, to be careful.

Good advise.

Financial fraud directed at seniors has been on the rise in previous decades, and new technology giving rise to a plethora of new scams. Older citizens are targeted for two primary reasons. One, they often have significant sums of money in savings and equity; and two, they are less savvy when it comes to newer technologies such as the Internet and smart phones.

Statistically speaking, the types of financial scams are more likely to be unreported, which minimizes risk for the perpetrators. Seniors who fall victim to these predators are at significant financial risk, as they have neither the time nor the resources to recoup major losses.

Both wealthy and low-income seniors are targeted by these criminals, and in many cases the perpetrators are actually family members such as adult children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews.

While it is impossible to list all of the potential scams seniors are vulnerable, the following list contains 10 that are particularly prevalent.

1. Telemarketers

Unscrupulous telemarketers are perhaps the most common victimizers of seniors, who tend to make many more purchases over the phone than individuals in other age groups. Fake telemarketing calls are quite prevalent, especially to older adults. Some examples include:

Fake Accident: a con artist claims that a family member has been in an accident and needs money wired right away.

Pigeon Drop: the scammer offers to split a large sum of money in exchange for a “good faith” payment from the victim.

Nonexistent Charity: the con artist claims to represent a charity that is asking for donations to help a needy population.

Since there is no paper trail or face-to-face interaction, tracing these scams back to the perpetrators is very difficult for law enforcement agents.

2. Health Care Fraud

The Canadian Health Care Anti-fraud Association has been working to prevent health care fraud since its inception in 2000, but scams are still prevalent. Medical identity theft and similar crimes occur regularly, and seniors are often the victims of such fraudulent practices.

In many cases, perpetrators pose as representatives to acquire personal details from unwitting victims. They may also offer bogus medical services in an attempt to pocket reimbursement funds. Seniors are advised not to share personal details with supposed representatives over the phone or by email to mitigate the risk of becoming a victim of health care fraud.

3. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

With the growing popularity of Internet pharmacies, many of which offer tantalizingly low prices on specialized medications, instances of counterfeit medications being distributed are on the rise. This is especially dangerous, as the health of victims—as well as their finances—is at risk.



4. Cemetery and Funeral Scams

There are several types of cemetery and funeral scams being reported on a regular basis.

One scam involves perpetrators preying on the grieving widow or widower by claiming that the deceased spouse carried an outstanding debt that must now be paid. Another common scam is one perpetrated by unscrupulous funeral homes and involves adding frivolous and unneeded items to the funeral bill.

5. Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products

Everyone wants to look his or her best—even older adults can fall victim to the whims of vanity. Scammers have taken to offering bogus cosmetic enhancement products and services such as fake Botox injections to unwitting seniors. Even more dangerous than fake Botox are bad batches of the real thing being haphazardly concocted by renegade labs. Less dangerous but even more prevalent are so-called anti-aging products being marketed through late night infomercials by “shucksters” trying to get over on seniors who are desperate to improve their physical appearance.

6. Reverse Mortgage/ Homeowner Scams

Con artists know that many seniors own their homes outright, and they take advantage of this by concocting scams that coerce homeowners to leverage the equity they have in their property. Some scammers have even sent official looking letters to homeowners offering property assessments and reduced tax burdens.

Reverse mortgage schemes are extremely common, many of which scam seniors right out of the titles to their homes. Phony refinancing offers that boast of ultra-low interest rates and cash sums at closing also target older adults.

7. Online Fraud

The Internet has opened up a whole new world of opportunities. Unfortunately, this is true for con artists as well. Seniors are less aware of the common email and antivirus software scams that are so prevalent these days, and often fall victim to these ubiquitous cons. Seniors are very commonly victimized by scammers who send legitimate looking emails requesting that personal information be updated or passwords changed.

8. Fraudulent Investments

Most seniors would be happy to have a few more dollars in their retirement accounts, so scammers often target older adults with fraudulent investment opportunities. The scammers prey on seniors’ insecurities about their financial futures, promising huge returns with minimal investments. When seniors fall for the pitch, they often opt to make larger investments, which is all just part of the con.

Pyramid schemes are quite prevalent, as are partnership offers to claim large sums of nonexistent funds.

9. The Grandparent Scam

These scams are especially devious, as they prey on the concerned hearts of older adults. They are usually carried out over the phone, with the con artists calling the victims and posing as a child or grandchild. The scammers make a convincing plea for money, often using college tuition, car repairs or other manufactured emergencies to coerce seniors out of their cash.

The con artists cover their tracks by requesting the money through transfer services that require little if any identification on the receiving end.

10. Lottery & Sweepstakes Scams

These scams are extremely common, with far too many seniors falling victim each year. The excitement people feel when they are informed that they have won a large sum of money or a free vacation is used against them, as it has a tendency to diminish their critical capabilities.

Many seniors take the news at face value, and when they are told that they only have to pay a small processing fee to receive their prize, they are all too anxious to write the check. Of course, when the victim deposits the phony check or tries to claim the prize, they wind up empty-handed. By this time, the scammers are long gone with their take.

Please...Don’t Be a Victim

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of one of these scams is to be aware that they exist. Seniors can be quite trusting, as many of them grew up in a world free of the dangers that exist today. Educating seniors as to the risks they face empowers them to make smarter decisions and avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous criminals.



FEATURE BUSINESSES

Ashwood Manor

79 David St. | London, ON, N6P1B4 | Phone: 519-652-9006 | Website: http://www.ashwoodmanor.com/ | Email: ashwood.manor.ldt@gmail.com

Bentley Landscape Ltd.

474 Colborne St. | London, ON N6B 2T3 | Phone: 519-452-0334 | Website: http://www.lawncarelondonontario.ca/ | Email: bentley45@rogers.com

Creation Bookstore

900 Oxford St E (Bellwood Place), Unit #12 | London ON N5Y 5A1 | Phone: 519-659-2610 | Fax: 519-659-2615 | Website: http://www.creationbookstore.ca/ | Email: info@creationbookstore.ca

Donohue Funeral Home

362 Waterloo Street | London, ON N6B 2N6 | Phone: 519-434-2708 | Website: http://donohuefuneralhome.ca/ | Email: donohue@donohuefuneralhome.ca

Forest Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery

2001 Dundas Street E. | London, Ontario N5V 1P6 | Phone: 519-451-2410 | Website: http://www.forestlawnmemorial.ca/ | Email: ttidridge@arbormemorial.com

Hardick Chiropractic Centre

331 Queens Ave | London, ON N6B 1X2 | Phone: 519-673-1132 | Website: http://www.hardickchiropractic.com/ | Email: bj@hardickchiropractic.com

Jackson Monuments and Stone Works

316B Neptune Crescent | London, ON N6M 1A1 | Phone: 519-451-3838 | Website: http://jacksonmonuments.ca/ | Email: admin@jacksonmonuments.ca

Masonville Manor

350 North Centre Rd. | London, ON, N6G 5G3 | Phone: 519-663-0220 | Website: http://www.masonvillemanor.com/ | Email: mmathers@masonvillemanor.com

McFarlane and Roberts Funeral Home

2240 Wharncliffe Rd. S. | London, ON, N6P 1L1 | Phone: 519-652-2020 | Website: http://www.mcfarlane-roberts.ca/ | Email: mcfarlanerobertsfh@rogers.com

Melekare

170 Hamilton Rd. | London ON N6B 1N5 | Phone: 519-518-6353 | Website: http://www.melekare.ca/ | Email: info@melekare.ca

Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Crematorium

303 Riverside Dr. | London, ON | Phone: 519-434-6504 | Website: www.mpcemetery.ca | Email: info@mpcemetery.ca

Oakland Cemetery

390 Oxford St. W | London, ON | Phone: 519-434-6504 | Website: http://www.mountpleasantcemeterylondon.ca/

Precision Home Medical Equipment

390 Springbank Drive, Unit 13A (Southcrest Plaza) | London, ON N6J 1G9 | Phone: 519-657-1032 | Website: http://www.precisionhme.ca/ | Email: info@precisionhme.ca

Right To Life Associations

1193 Oxford Street Unit 3 | London, ON N5Y 3M2 | Phone: 519-659-3334 | Website: http://www.right2life.ca | Email: info@right2life.ca

Soccer Express

1070 Wellington Rd. #17 | London, ON, N6E 3V8 | Phone: 519-601-4625 | Website: http://www.soccerx.com/ | Email: dant@soccerx.com

Southwest Pet Store

1641 Dundas St. E. | London, ON N5W 3C3 | Phone: 519-451-7279 | Website: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SouthwestPet/about/?ref=page_internal | Email: info@southwestpet.ca

Southwest Pet Store

1063 Talbot St. | St. Thomas, ON N5P 1G4 | Phone: 519-633-2334 | Website: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SouthwestPet/about/?ref=page_internal | Email: info@southwestpet.ca