FBI report: Fraud losses hit record high as scammers target people of all ages
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There’s been a sharp spike in losses reported by kupuna who have been victimized by scammers. The FBI’s elder fraud report from 2022 shows Hawaii’s elderly are being targeted in large numbers.
Nearly 400 Hawaii residents 60 years of age or older reported being scammed out of more than $16.3 million.
Nationwide, all adults are being targeted, with those in their 30s falling for scams the most ― 94,506 were victims.
But the elderly lose the most money. A record high of $3.1 billion was lost last year, up 85% from 2021.
“A lot of kupuna have saved up money so they have more to lose and people target them because of that,” said Kealii Lopez, state director for AARP.
One of the most common schemes used offers computer tech support.
“You may just get a pop-up window on your computer that says, ‘oh, there’s a problem,” said Steven Merrill, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Honolulu office.
The window will often have a “click here” button or a phone number to fix the problem. That starts the scheme.
Merrill said you should not click on the link and do not call the number.
Another common tactic: Criminals impersonate a government agency, seeking money, credit card information or even cryptocurrency by offering a link. Merrill called any request for cryptocurrency a red flag because government agencies won’t ever ask for payment that way.
Investment opportunities are another common scam.
They range from real estate offers, pyramid schemes or fake start up companies.
Some fraudsters use social media to pretend to be friends or family members with their victim in an effort to gain their trust before stealing from them.
“It’s called pig butchering,” Merrill said, adding criminals are convincing people to make investments that sound “too good to be true.”
The FBI says you shouldn’t ever give personal or financial information to a company you are not familiar with and never pay with cryptocurrency.
Another tip: Slow down, the fraudster will always want you to act quickly.
“They know, if you have more time to think about it, you’re less likely to say, yes,” Lopez said, adding kupuna should call a family member if you’re confused about what’s happening.
Scams are often not reported because the victim is embarrassed, but notifying law enforcement immediately can help stop the transaction or prevent further losses.
The AARP has a series of events coming up to educate people about fraud:
- May 3: Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, 9:30 a.m.
- May 4: Maui Arts & Cultural Center, 5:30 p.m.
- May 5: Royal Kona Resort, 9:30 a.m.
- May 6: Ala Moana Hotel, 9 a.m.
Click here or call 877-926-8300 for more information.
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