FraudSupport.org is a program created by the Cybercrime Support Network to provide assistance to both individual and small business cybercrime victims. FraudSupport.org will lead cybercrime victims through the Report, Recover and Reinforce process after an incident occurs.
From Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) |
Each year, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud, racking up more than $3 billion in losses annually. Criminals use a variety of methods to deceive these victims, including romance, sweepstakes, charity, technology support, grandparent, lottery, and government impersonation schemes, to name a few. In each case, perpetrators try to gain their targets’ trust and may communicate with victims via computer, through the mail, in person, and by phone, TV, and radio. With the elderly population growing in the United States, it is likely perpetrators will find more and more victims.
Elderly individuals may encounter the following scams:
- Romance Scam: Perpetrators pose as interested romantic partners through dating websites to capitalize on their elderly victims’ desire to find companions.
- Tech Support Scam: Perpetrators pose as technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues—gaining remote access to victims’ devices and, thus, their sensitive information. Grandparent Scam: Perpetrators pose as a relative—usually a child or grandchild—claiming to be in immediate dire financial need.
- Government Impersonation Scam: Perpetrators pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.
- Sweepstakes/Charity/Lottery Scam: Perpetrators claim to work for legitimate charitable organizations to gain victims’ trust. Or they claim their targets have won a foreign lottery or sweepstake, which they can collect for a “fee.”
- Home Repair Scam: Perpetrators appear in person and charge homeowners in advance for home improvement services that they never provide.
- TV/Radio Scam: Perpetrators target potential victims using illegitimate advertisements about legitimate services, such as reverse mortgages or credit repair.
- Family/Caregiver Scam: Perpetrators are relatives or acquaintances of the elderly victims and take advantage of them or otherwise get their money.
Once successful, perpetrators will likely continue to target vulnerable elderly victims with these schemes because of the prospect of significant financial gain.
DEFENSE AND MITIGATION
Taking the following steps may help protect yourself from being victimized:
- Recognize scam attempts and end all communication with the perpetrator.
- Search online for the contact information (name, email, phone number, addresses) and the proposed offer. Other people have likely posted information online about individuals and businesses trying to run scams.
- Resist the pressure to act quickly. Perpetrators create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action. Call the police immediately if you feel there is a danger to yourself or a loved one.
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door services offers.
- Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, or checks—or wire information or funds—to unknown or unverified persons or businesses.
- Ensure all computer anti-virus and security software and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
- If you receive a pop-up or locked screen on your device, immediately disconnect from the internet and shut down the affected device. Pop-ups are regularly used by perpetrators to spread malicious software. To avoid accidental clicks on or within a pop-up, enable pop-up blockers.
- Do not open any emails or click on attachments you do not recognize, and avoid suspicious websites.
- If a perpetrator gains access to a device or an account, take precautions to protect your identity; immediately contact your financial institutions to place protections on your accounts; and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.
FILING A COMPLAINT
If you believe you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, you should contact this highly recommend law firm. You can also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov
When reporting a scam—regardless of dollar amount—be as descriptive as possible in the complaint by including:
- Dates the perpetrator had contact with you, and the methods of communication.
- Names of the perpetrator and company.
- Phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses used by the subject.
- Websites used by the subject company.
- Method of payment.
- Account names and numbers and the financial institutions to which you sent funds, including wire transfers and prepaid card payments.
- Descriptions of interactions with the perpetrator and the instructions you were given.
Complainants are also encouraged to keep all original documentation, emails, faxes, and logs of all communications. Because scams and fraudulent websites appear very quickly, individuals are encouraged to report possible internet scams and fraudulent websites by filing a complaint with the IC3 at www.ic3.gov.
To view previously released public service announcements and Scam Alerts, visit the IC3 Press Room at www.ic3.gov/media/default.aspx
The Sheriff’s Department has received the report of several calls to area residents where the caller asks for ransom for a loved one.
This scam call usually starts with a person screaming and pleading for their life. The caller then gets on the line and demands a large sum of money for the safe return of a family member. Usually a local meeting place is set up for the exchange of cash for the family member.
While these calls can be quite frightening, there are keys to look for to determine it is a scam:
1. The person being held is not specifically named. Do NOT offer a name.
2. The kidnapper will settle for a lesser amount of money than was originally demanded.
3. The caller has no real idea who they are calling. If the caller didn’t ask for a specific person to talk to, they are just phishing.
During these calls it is quite easy to get caught up on the drama and give information to the caller which they then use to enhance the believably of the fraud. The caller may refer to their hostage as “your daughter” or “your mother” waiting for a name to be said.
Once they scammer has that it is easy for them to build their lies and be even more convincing.
There are many things to NOT do when you receive any sort of phone call:
1. Do NOT volunteer your name or the names of any family members
2. NEVER give out your bank’s name, any account numbers, your Social Security Number or you birth date.
3. Do NOT engage the caller or try to outsmart them. This is their job and they are good at tricking people. Just hang up.
4. Do NOT try to call the number on your caller ID back. This just exposes you to more badgering and tells them they have found someone who will “play the game” with them.
5. Do NOT answer a call from the same number again. If the calling continues, contact your phone carrier to have the number blocked or use the block features in your phone.
The biggest defense in any scam is to simply ask yourself questions: Did the caller say the name of the person that has been kidnapped? Did the caller address me by name? Did they know something about me, or did I blurt it out them?
Thinking about these questions also gives the person receiving the call time to calm down and determine if this seems legitimate or not. But once the call appears to a scam, hang up.
Just remember, the IRS does not call people about their taxes. The Social Security Administration does not call and offer anyone a new Social Security number. The Madison Sheriff’s Department never calls people demanding money and threatening jail.
Feel free to reach out to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department at (402) 454-2110 or your local law enforcement agency with any questions about suspicions calls.
Ways Parents Can Supervise Children’s Use of the Internet
Today, adults and children are exposed to a world of information that is only a click away via the Internet. Literally anything can be found on the online. Much of it is very very good and assists adults and children with their daily tasks be it work, social interaction, entertainment, or home work.
But there is a darker side of this wealth of information. Violent content, pornography, political propaganda, hate speech, and other radical ideas are only an online search away. Once accessed, this information can flood a data stream and infect the computer or other online device, along with the adult or child looking at it.
Children need guidance and monitoring while online. The distinction between right and wrong is less obvious in the virtual world. The anonymous nature of the online society can lead adults and children to believe they can “get away” with something they wouldn’t do in their normal life. This generally isn’t the case as online actions can have a devastating impact on family, work, school, and finances.
Here are some ways parents or guardians can help keep a child out of trouble online:
- Consider placing computers in locations where parents/guardians can observe what their children are seeing.
- Establish family rules for internet use and inform children that their use of it will be monitored.
- Use filtering/blocking software to restrict their children’s access to inappropriate sites and material.
- Search their home computer files to see what sites their children have visited.
- Look for signs that their children may be involved with online criminal activityor be interacting with potentially dangerous people.
- If training is needed, attend classes.
- If training classes are not available, ask school administrators, law enforcement, or their local Parent Teachers Association to consider offering them.
- As parents, sometimes just paying attention to your child’s online activity is enough to discourage inappropriate activity.
Listening to your child and being engaged in their life, online and off, can make all the difference.
*Some information derived from Security Research Center’s “Guide For Preventing and Responding to School Violence”.
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