FBI Dallas Warns of Elder Fraud Crimes
FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno describes elder fraud crimes in the Dallas area, where approximately 2,569 individuals over the age of 60 lost nearly $25.8 million last year because they fell victim to a financial crime.
Across the world, criminals target citizens of the United States in attempts to defraud them of their hard-earned money–the seniors of North Texas are no different. Regardless of your race, medical condition, gender, or political affiliation, criminals scheme to trick you, our senior population, into sending money for their benefit.
In 2020, approximately 2,569 individuals over the age of 60 in the Dallas FBI’s area of responsibility lost nearly $25.8 million because they fell victim to a financial crime. Of this $25.8 million, over 27% was lost through romance scams. From January to the end of April 2021, losses of nearly $13 million have been reported by 797 victims over the age of 60. Please keep in mind, this just covers those crimes reported to the FBI by those over 60 in the FBI Dallas area of responsibility.
Taking the entirety of Texas into consideration, in 2020 Texas was ranked as the state with the third most reported victims over the age of 60 and third when ranked by total dollar loss for those over 60 with $69.8 million lost.
Why would someone target the senior population? Well, through years of investigations and prosecuted cases–which includes interviews with the scammers themselves–these criminals have given the following reasons about why they target you, our senior population.
First, you are more likely to be financially stable. You have more money, an excellent credit score, and likely own your own home.
You are often more trusting of people and perceived as less likely or more ashamed to report being a victim of a financial crime
Second, you may be less experienced with computers or online banking.
And third, some of you are looking for something all humans crave: companionship.
Some of that derives from being widowed or divorced. Many criminals have found their targets of financial crimes through online dating sites or even through mobile gaming applications.
From statistics compiled by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, the most reported types of financial scams affecting our seniors are:
Romance or confidence fraud.
Technical support fraud. In technical-support fraud, criminals pose as a technical-support representative offering to resolve computer, email, or bank account issues in an effort to trick victims into giving the bad actor remote access to their computers to defraud you.
And money mules—schemes in which they ask our seniors to act as money mules. The scammer may ask you for your banking information. This allows scammers to use your bank account as they wish. Or they may ask you to actively receive and then send money, whether by cashier’s check, cash, wire transfer, or even virtual currency. The criminal wants you to unknowingly receive money from a victim they’ve tricked into sending money. In doing so, you’re inadvertently helping the bad guys distance themselves from the financial victim as you become one extra layer that law enforcement must peel back in order to help return money to victims.
The Dallas FBI, along with the Department of Justice and our partners at every level care about your safety and well-being–whether physical, emotional, financial, or otherwise. Remember, these criminals work hard to create lies that are believable. There’s no shame in being a victim. If you’ve been coerced into sending money to an individual you’ve never met in person, or know someone who has, please contact your financial institution right away and report this to the appropriate law enforcement agency, as you may be the only one with the missing information that helps law enforcement prevent others from losing money to these criminals.
You can contact the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI, file a report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, also known as IC3, at www.IC3.gov , or submit your tip online with the FBI’s easy-to-navigate website: tips.fbi.gov.
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