FBI Salt Lake City
Press Office
May 12, 2022

FBI Warns of Increased Reports of Fraud Targeting Seniors in Montana

In recognition of National Senior Fraud Awareness Day on May 15, 2022, the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office is raising awareness about an increase in reporting of cyber scams targeting the elderly in Montana.

The FBI Billings Resident Agency has received at least one call a month where victims have lost significant amounts of money in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Most of the victims, it totally destroys them because they will refinance their house, take out their savings, their retirement, and they’re left with very little,” said Special Agent Chad McNiven of the Salt Lake City FBI’s Billings Resident Agency.

According to the latest Elder Fraud Report, the number of elderly victims nationwide has risen at an alarming rate, while the loss amounts are even more staggering. In 2021, over 92,000 victims over the age of 60 reported losses of $1.7 billion to the IC3. In Montana, 406 victims reported losses totaling $5,405,855

Seniors are often targeted because they tend to be trusting and polite. They also usually have financial savings, own a home, and have good credit—all of which make them attractive to scammers.

Additionally, seniors may be less inclined to report fraud because they don’t know how, or they may be too ashamed at having been scammed. They might also be concerned that their relatives will lose confidence in their abilities to manage their own financial affairs. And when an elderly victim does report a crime, they may be unable to supply detailed information to investigators.

The top three crimes targeting Montana seniors for fiscal year 2021 by victim count (according to the Elder Fraud Report) were:

  1. Tech Support
    • Victim Count: 66
    • Victim Loss: $503,086
  2. Non-payment/Non-delivery
    • Victim Count: 63
    • Victim Loss: $70,220
  3. Confidence Fraud/Romance
    • Victim Count: 35
    • Victim Loss: $1,255,100

The top three crimes targeting Montana seniors by victim loss were:

  1. Confidence Fraud/Romance
    • Victim Count: 35
    • Victim Loss: $1,255,100
  2. Lottery/Sweepstakes/Inheritance
    • Victim Count: 16
    • Victim Loss: $685,182
  3. Business email Compromise (BEC)/email Account Compromise (EAC)
    • Victim Count: 15
    • Victim Loss: $680,013

If you are an older American—or a caregiver—here are some things you can do to protect you and your family:

  • 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. Scammers 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 service offers.
  • Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
  • Make sure all computer anti-virus and security software and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
  • Disconnect from the Internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Pop-ups are regularly used by perpetrators to spread malicious software. Enable pop-up blockers to avoid accidentally clicking on a pop-up.
  • Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
  • Take precautions to protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account. Immediately contact your financial institutions to place protections on your accounts, and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.

If you believe you are a victim of fraud, or know a senior who may be, regardless of financial loss, immediately report the incident to your local law enforcement agency and to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.