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Frauds and Scams targeting Older Adults in South Florida (*)

Grandparent scams: Scammers call or email the victim posing as a “relative” in distress (accident, arrested, kidnapped, car problems) or as an attorney of the relative in trouble. The victim is asked to wire money immediately to pay bills, legal fees, bail, or other fictitious expenses.

Sweepstake or Lottery scams: Telemarketing scammers, often based overseas, contact the victim claiming that he/she has won a significant prize (usually large amounts of money, vacations, and/or luxury cars). The victim is required to pay “taxes” or “fees” in advance before they can receive the fictitious prize. Criminals usually pose as lottery employees or government officials (Customs officers, IRS agents), and may use fake documents to support their claims.

Romance scams: Scammers use social networking, dating, chats rooms, or social media sites to meet potential victims. Using fake profiles to build on-line relationships, they attempt to extract personal information from the victim (bank account information, personal data) and eventually ask for increasing amounts of money. The scammers often claim they need to pay medical or educational bills or need money to come visit the victim.

Tech Support Scams: Scammers contact victims, either on-line or by telephone, claiming to be computer techs with well-known companies. After informing the victim that their computer has been infected with a virus or malware, they either demand a fee to remove the virus, or request access to the victim’s computer to “fix it,” and then install their own malware program to steal sensitive data (passwords, usernames, and personal information).

Government impostors: Scammers pose as law enforcement officers, county inspectors, immigration, or tax officials, and inform the victim that they are overdue on paying a fictitious fine and will be arrested if they do not pay immediately. Scammers will often claim that they are on their way to the victim at this very moment.

Fake charities: Scammers create fake charities on-line or contact victims on the telephone, claiming to solicit money for an emergency that is currently in the news (earthquakes, hurricanes, famines). Others claim to be members of the US military overseas needing financial help.

Affinity/Guardian fraud: Trusted relatives or care-takers pressure victims to grant them access to financial resources or properties (power of attorney, shared bank accounts, deeds) and then use the money for their own ends.


In an emergency DIAL 911 immediately!

If you believe you have been the victim of a fraud or scam, contact your local police department or FBI Tip line: 800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or .


(*) Article from the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office.