June 25, 2024

Within the span of a few months, two aged residents of Troy, Michigan have been hoodwinked out of a combined total of over $1 million through online scams, according to local law enforcement.

From October 2023 through February of the following year, an 81-year-old male was led to believe he was investing online in a gold exchange. By April, the fraudsters demanded tax payments on the supposed earnings before a family member flagged the scam. However, the man had already been swindled out of $460,000.

“Regrettably, this is happening more often. The culprits are very persuasive, leading seniors to believe they’re investing in legitimate causes, which ultimately is not the case,” expressed Troy Community Services Sgt. Ben Hancock.

Following a report filed in May, the police are now investigating the matter. Astonishingly, another senior resident was caught in a similar ‘Publishers Clearing House’ scam two months prior to this, losing $700,000 in the process. “This is unbearable. They’ve worked their entire lives for that money, and now when they should be enjoying it, they’ve lost it,” Tina Doyle, founder of MI Seniors Move, commented.

Doyle who regularly visits community centres in and around Detroit to alert seniors about such scams, stresses the importance of cross-checking with family members before divulging personal information and cautions against taking hasty decisions. “Take a step back if you feel pressurised or if something seems suspicious. Frequently, scammers use urgency as a technique,” Doyle advised.

Interestingly, some Troy seniors acknowledged being aware of fellow seniors that have fallen prey to such scams. “An acquaintance was swindled out of $70,000 on Christmas Eve. It was an intricate scam involving a Bitcoin account,” shared 75-year-old, Paul Gorishek.

In response to these events, Gorishek is taking further measures to meticulously verify online resources and dubious advertisements. Another common ploy deployed by fraudsters involves the use of Artificial Intelligence to mimic the voices of family members in videos posted on social media and then demanding cash during phone calls.

“If something feels strange, it probably is,” added Doyle. Troy police are unsure whether the recent scams originate from abroad or are homegrown, but investigations are underway.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common online scams targeting senior citizens?

Some scams often target senior citizens due to them being less familiar with the digital world. These include investment scams, identity theft, lottery scams, and phishing emails. Advice is to maintain a sceptical view of emails or callers asking for personal details or money.

What steps can be taken to avoid online scams?

Safeguarding against scams involves thorough scrutiny of emails and websites, cross-checking unfamiliar calls or messages with family members, and most importantly, not making hasty decisions under pressure.

What to do if you have fallen victim to an online scam?

If you’ve fallen victim to an online scam, the first step is to report it to local law enforcement. Additionally, you can report the scam to your bank or credit card company if money was lost, and they may be able to assist you.