Scams Against the Elderly Are HUGE: Luckily Authorities Just Stopped One Large Romance Scam

scams image.JPG
Dr. Lande and FBI Victim Specialist Debbie Deem

Dr. Lande and FBI Victim Specialist Debbie Deem

As part of my practice I consult with and provide training to various law enforcement groups on elder abuse. Last week I provided a training for the FBI. One of the main topics I cover is victimization of seniors by mass market scams.

We have all received such solicitations. A computer phone call stating that we owe the IRS, or an email from a member of the Nigerian government who needs help smuggling money out of the country and knows that you would be the perfect person to assist, or perhaps that too good to true connection on a dating website who just never quite seems available to meet in person.

These scams work by convincing us to use emotional reasoning, rather than logical reasoning. They use visceral motivations like fear and greed, along with a sense of authority, to get us to respond. And they require urgency, so that we don’t have time to think about what we are doing.

Unfortunately, older adults are a prime target due to factors such as greater wealth concentration, loneliness, and some of the cognitive processing changes that occur as we age. Scams are a difficult crime to stop as they are cheap and easy to do, and are often based out of the country, making it hard for law enforcement to intervene.

Luckily, as you can read about in this story, Federal authorities were recently able to stop a large romance scam targeting women around the world, but with at least some of the perpetrators based in the US.

Education and awareness is often one of the best ways to prevent yourself and your loved ones from falling victim. Remember, if anyone is demanding an immediate payment, especially with any type of gift card, it is probably a scam.

Remember, you can contact law enforcement if victimized by these scams and it is important to report them. A good place to report them is the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Sometimes, if you are quick enough it is even possible to get your or your loved one’s money back.

For a free video on the aging brain and scams, click the button below. There is also a button linking to a recent article I wrote on mass market scams.


Want to talk about these issues in person? Please feel free to reach out to us at Insightneuropsych.com.

Dr. Lande's article on chronic scam victimization in the elderly has published!

us attorney bulletin.JPG

Here is the link to the article. I co-authored it with Debbie Deem, FBI Victim Advocate Specialist. This addition of the Journal focuses on Elder Justice issues, and so we discuss chronic scam victimization of the elderly, including contributing factors and ways to address it with government and local community resources. 

It is in the US Attorney Bulletin, AKA Department of Justice Journal of Federal Law and Practice

Transnational Scam Predators and Older Adult Victims: Contributing Characteristics of Chronic Victims and Developing an Effective Response - by Debbie Deem and Erik Lande

It is page 181 of the pdf (which is actually page 177 of the journal itself)