According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers are going back to basics to scam the elderly.
On Tuesday, the FTC warned that scammers have been sending threatening letters using fake official-looking FTC branding.
Monica Vaca, Associate Director, Consumer Response and Operations for the FTC, explained how a man from Pennsylvania had received a letter.
“The letter said his online and financial activities put him under suspicion of money laundering and terrorism. And now, all his ‘activities will be under review’.”
Vaca went on to add that it can be assumed that the letter was the first part of the scam, and the second part would involve “urgent” phone calls informing people to send them money right away.
It should be noted that the FTC will never send a letter like this and never send threatening letters, or ask individuals to pay anything or give personal information to collect their funds.
“No government agency will ever demand that you pay by gift card, wiring money, or bitcoin. Anyone who does that is a scammer. Full stop.”
The FTC also warned that scammers are now going low-tech and are asking people to send cash in the mail. At times scammers are calling the elderly pretending to be a grandchild in trouble who needs cash for bail, hospital treatment or another reason.
“People 70 and older who paid in cash report a median loss of $9,000. Compare that to all age groups, who report losing a median of $2,000 so far this year on these types of scams,” said Vaca.
“So what if you get one of these calls? No matter how alarming it seems, stop and check it out. Get off the phone and call the family member who’s supposed to be in trouble – using a number you know is right. Can’t reach them? Check with another friend or family member. And never, ever send cash by mail. (Or pay with a gift card. Or wire money to someone who demands it.”