Study: Over-60s scam victims are suffering in ’embarrassed silence’

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"Embarrassed silence" is becoming more common. Source: Getty.

More than a third of elderly people who have fallen victim to cruel scams confessed they are “too embarrassed” to admit what’s happened to them or ask for help.

New research has revealed that 22 per cent of older people are completely unwilling to discuss their finances at any time, worryingly though that figure jumps up to 36 per cent when considering elderly people who have fallen victim to scammers or fraudsters.

The report, published by Reassura and the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Counter Fraud Studies (CCFS), features a number of harrowing case studies of real people who have lost their life savings as a result of online scams.

One pensioner in her 70s, referred to only as ‘Christine’, was fleeced out of an enormous £108,000 (AU$193,099) after she received an email “out of the blue” telling her she could receive £500,000 if she paid certain “fees”.

Unaware the email was fraudulent, Christine paid the fees over a number of months and only became aware that she had been scammed after trying to remortgage the home she shared with her terminally ill husband. By the time Christine realised she’d fallen victim to a scam her bank account had been bled dry.

The CCFS report also revealed that scam victims were also left feeling vulnerable and anxious afterwards, with a whopping 82 per cent admitting to feelings of anxiety following the fraud and 79 per cent said it caused them to lose confidence.

“The polling showed how victims were more concerned in the long term about being a victim and a loss of confidence than they were about monetary losses,” the report, which has been published by Naked Security, states, “These stigmas, sense of victimisation/taboos lead to great pain in the victims, very low levels of crime reporting and perpetuation of the crimes.

“Silence is leading to non-reporting, increased crime rates and increasingly serious consequences of victimisation.”

A recent report by the ACCC revealed that Baby Boomers are still the generation being hit hardest by fraudsters. In its annual report, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) found that those over the age of 55 are the most susceptible when it comes to scams, in particular fake investment opportunities and online dating tricks.

Aussies reported an astonishing $340 million worth of losses to scams in 2017, which is an increase of 13 per cent on the previous year. Around $90 million of those losses were reported to the ACCC’s ScamWatch, which provides information on how to avoid these bogus schemes.

Those aged between 55 and 64-years-old were found to have lost the most money to scams in 2017, being swindled out of a total of $21.6 million over the 12-month period, with the most common methods of contact being phone and emails. Four in 10 scams were carried out by fraudsters who contacted their targets over the phone, while 31 per cent were sent via email.

Would you ask for help if you found yourself in a similar situation? Or would you feel too embarrassed?

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