So many scams out there seem so obvious to us, yet our parents and other seniors are falling for them. Why is that? In one case, the allegations are that the con artists sought out and preyed upon the elderly through their lottery scam. Many of these scams have been seen on the news, and they seem very repetitive. The characters and the amount of money stolen from elderly people changes, but the methods are the same over and over again. Scams like these bring in millions from their victims every year with just a handful being caught.
Why is it that the elderly people don’t understand that the “Nigerian prince” or the “Jamaican Lottery” are clearly bogus and not to be trusted? It’s obvious to us, why not them? There are various reasons why the elderly people are such easy prey for these types of thieves and scams. One cause is isolation and loneliness, sadly a fact of life for many seniors who are not closely monitored by loved ones. A pleasant, slick professional calls on the phone in a very friendly and engaging manner and traps the vulnerable elder with kind words, a feeling of connection and attention. These thieves are trained and smart; they can smell the kill and know exactly what to say to get the elder to trust them.
The thieves know that when they purchase a thousand names from magazines subscribers, SA Lottery or competitions and they know the age of those on the list, their chances of finding victims are excellent. Some of these elder people might be just impaired enough not to see the scam coming. It’s inevitable as ageing can be accompanied by cognitive impairment. In fact, a third of these seniors aged 85 and above have dementia in some form. These scammers simply buy the list and start phoning. There are no restrictions on the type of information you can sell to the highest bidder like your age, phone number, address, email address, etc.
This is yet another reason, so many elderly have to retire with so little, and an opportunity like this (the scam) will give them enough to enjoy retirement, become less of a burden to their families or even, leave something behind to their families. These reasons and so much more motivates people to succumb to the temptation that they can get a great deal of easy money. Maybe, a bit of greed is a factor too. Even seniors who are relatively well-off can fall prey to scammers. Intelligence, education, and even training in the field of finance can’t protect one when impaired judgment and emotions are in play. Professional criminals can make a victim of anyone who is vulnerable for any reason. Read more on how to get your money back after a scam.
With technology being so powerful, you can monitor the financial activity online of your parents to protect them. It’s so quick and easy to open up a savings account with online banking being one of the perks. Obviously, you’ll need their permission to do this, and in most cases, the elderly will give in when technology is mention.
Also, be more involved with your parents at their old age. Should you have a good relationship with your parents, chances are they will discuss this letter/email/SMS they’ve received with you.
Unfortunately, most of our ageing parents are not so smart when it comes to technology, and they trust too much. However you decide to prevent this from happening to your loved ones, a good way is to educate them on the type of scams in South Africa. After all, we, their adult children may be their only line of defence.
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