Silver scams: The fraudulent dupes that are targeting over 60s

More and more Australians are becoming victims of scams and contrary to what some may think: you don’t need to

More and more Australians are becoming victims of scams and contrary to what some may think: you don’t need to be naive or uneducated to be duped. Scams can be embedded into so many areas of our lives – all with one main aim: to take our money.

Over 60s are often the target of scams, due to their trusting nature and also vulnerability. If there’s a chance to get more money to supplement the paltry pension, some can lunge at the chance without thinking.

Here’s 6 of the top scams currently targeting seniors and how to avoid them.

Advance fee fraud

According to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, advance fee fraud is the most common scam around, accounting for more than half of the scams reported.

It is the type of scam where a scammer requests fees or personal information upfront in return for goods, services, money or rewards that they never supply. An example is the Nigerian 419 scamthat has been circulating for years: a scammer offers you a reward in exchange for helping transfer money overseas. It sounds so simple: all you have to do is give your bank account details and pay fees or taxes and then you’ll inherit a fortune. Clearly, these are ruses just to take your money, but they aren’t always as obvious.

The fake inheritance scam, where a scammer claims that you have been left a huge inheritance from a long-lost relative, is also common.

How to protect yourself:

  • Avoid arrangements with strangers who request upfront payment for anything.
  • Copy the exact wording of the offer and paste in Google – you’ll see straight away if it’s a scam
  • Don’t open suspicious or unsolicited emails…just delete them.

“ATO” Calls

It’s tax time, so it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for ATO to want to call you. But one scam that has cropped up since last July is the ATO scam, where a serious voice on the other end tell you they’re form the Australian Taxation Office, and that you owe them money.

They demand payment immediately and threaten to report you if you don’t.

How to protect yourself:

  • Know that if the ATO owes you a refund or you owe them, they will send a letter to you. They will never call and demand money
  • If you’re really worried that you owe money, contact them.

Job and employment opportunities

You’ve been looking for a job for a while and aren’t yet able to retire. You apply for every job you see and check your emails in hope every day. Then one day, you’re sent a job opportunity you simply can’t resist! It promises big income for little work.

Job and employment scams offer you to work from home or set up and invest in a ‘business opportunity’ with the promise of a job, high salary or large investment return following initial upfront payments.

They say these payments may be for a ‘business plan’, training course, software, uniforms, security clearance, taxes or fees, so you don’t immediately identify them as a scam. You might not even receive an email – these hard-to-resist offers can even show up on reputable job sites.

How to protect yourself:

  • Beware of offers or schemes claiming to guarantee income or requiring payment upfront.
  • Never agree to an offer over the phone – ask for it in writing.
  • Do your research before agreeing to any offer, and make sure to ask around, search online and check if the company is licensed using ASIC’s Australian Financial Services licensee register.
  • Many work-from-home scams are fronts for money-laundering or pyramid schemes – and both are illegal in Australia. While they may not say it, if they sound strange, they probably are.

The “Your Child/Grandchild Needs Money” Trap

Grandparents would do anything to help their grandchild if they were in trouble, and scammers know this. One newer type of scam is the phone call that says your close relative is in trouble and needs you help. The person may tell you they’re a lawyer or representative, or even a doctor or the police.

The person assures you they can handle the money and any other personal information that they need to “help”. As with most scams of this type, the pressure is on and the scammer knows you are vulnerable and most likely upset.

How to protect yourself:

  • If there’s always a reason why you can’t speak directly to your relative or someone you know and you can never call them back, that’s a sign something is awry.
  • Never give out financial or personal information on the phone.
  • If your loved one is in jail or in the hospital and someone’s calling on their behalf, they should be able to give you details about the person’s condition, where they are, how they can be reached, and so on.

Lottery and competition scams

It can be so exciting to win something but it’s important not to get too excited until you know for sure it is legitimate.

Lottery and competition scams try to trick you into giving money upfront or your personal details in order to receive a prize from a lottery, sweepstake or competition that you never entered. The scammers typically say that you need to pay fees or taxes before your ‘winnings’ or prize can be released.

You may also have to call or SMS a premium rate phone number to claim your prize. Don’t be fooled as scammers use official-looking documents and brochures that appear to have government approval or to have come from a reputable company in order to make you feel safe.

How to protect yourself:

  • In Australia, you cannot win money in a lottery or competition unless you entered, or someone else did so on your behalf.
  • Tickets in genuine overseas lotteries can only be bought in that country.
  • A legitimate lottery does not require you to pay a fee to collect winnings.
  • Do a search online using the exact wording of the offer.
  • Think twice before calling or text messaging a phone number starting with ‘19’ – these are premium services and will cost you.

Dating scams

Perhaps one of the most sad scams out there, the dating and romance scams are prevalent and prey on lonely seniors. To someone who has little human contact, it can be the light in a dark tunnel to have an attractive person speak to them, but these are significant scams that rob people of money and happiness.

According to the ACCC, the most common dating and romance scams involve scammers creating fake profiles on legitimate dating websites. They use these profiles to try and get your money and personal details. The scammer are experts at making you gain emotional attachment so when they ask for money, it can feel like a do or die situation. These scams may be operated by experienced criminal networks and can run for months or even years.

Have you or someone you know ever been the victim of a scam? What happened? How have you or they be more careful since?

  1. Trish Daley

    Simple, give your details to no one and definitely DO NOT PAY ANYTHING, we are warned on a weekly basis from the Banks and any other funds where we may have accounts. However there will always be people who think they are going to get something for nothing, YOU ARE NOT AND NEVER WILL. Spend more time on making a good budget for yourselves and live within your means.

  2. Barbara Easthope

    I had someone try a scam on me that was quite sophisticated. I was selling my caravan, a buyer came forward, willing to make payment via PayPal and I was sent authentic looking links to set it up to receive the money. Then they said there was a glitch and I would need to expedite the sale by sending some money to a third party to collect the caravan as they were working offshore. Suspicious I immediately went to ScamWatch and sure enough there was this scam listed. I would thoroughly recommend people check this site out before entering into any out of the norm financial transaction over the Internet.

    • David James

      It happened to me to Barbara but when they said they would pay me but not even come around to look at the car, just send someone to pick it up alarm bells rang

    • Barbara Easthope

      David James yes I felt it dodgy when they didn’t come and look and they would buy it unseen but someone in our town had just brought a caravan without having seen it as it was the size he wanted with features he wanted and cheap enough that he felt there was scope to do repairs and still come out with a good value purchase. It was an almost new van so I thought it was possible that someone would risk it. In the emails the language changed the last message was a much more ocker sounding message than the first few and unlikely to be written by the same person.

  3. FranandSam Grannies

    If I get a suspicious phone call I ask for their name and contact number and I will call back, they usually hang up quick, just ignore!

    • I had a call a couple of weeks ago that purported to be from PayPal . When I was suspicious , he said he’d give me his name and number , to ring him back . I told him , I would contact PayPal myself thank you . He hung up and I contacted PayPal . Yes it was a scam . If you have doubts , Just say thank you I’ll ring them myself .

  4. John Steven

    I have received numerous scam emails in the last 3 weeks or so. Most were asking to confirm my details and signed “Kevin Jones snr”. The latest was needing confirmation as I was the winner of a money prize. The interesting thing was they were all addressed to John Steven. The only place I use that name is on Facebook and my FB security and privacy settings are as tight as they can be. I am on iCloud so any scams or spams can be sent on as an attachment to “[email protected]” Hopefully this stops them. Be careful out there.

  5. Marion Hancock

    I couldn’t win a chook raffle but it’s amazing how many things I have supposedly won according to my emails. I would have a drawer full of iPhone but I don’t click on anything to respond !!

  6. Marion Bright

    I am always pretty cautious because I’ve always believed you never get anything for nothing. I have a recording on my phone telling me I owe tax . I haven’t paid tax for year’s as I am on a carers pension. I can see how people fall for these scams it’s disturbing.

  7. Meg Hyde

    Never take part in a financial activity you had not instigated yourself. As for the phone, my response is ‘Sorry, I am just about to ….. and can’t stay on the phone. I am interested in what you have to say but you will need to post the information to me.’ Nobody has ever stayed after that. I might think up another one for next time the ‘do not call’ fails.

  8. Phil Butcher

    I hate, really hate, scammers. Most folks can see through it, but the older people can’t. I’d fair dinkum string them up. We have worked for what we have and they just want to rip it off.

  9. Isabel Edwards

    I have been inandated with calls about my internet will be stopped so I rang Telstra & gave them the number , they put a stop on it & said that it would be delt with

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *