Seniors lose billions of dollars a year to financial fraud, ranging from mass mailings and threatening robocalls, to telemarketing and identity theft. Experts around the country, including Connecticut, are focused on combating the problem.
This year the U.S. Department of Justice announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history. They involve more than 250 people charged with victimizing more than a million Americans -- mostly elderly.
Detective Mark Solomon is with the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, a unit run by the U.S. Secret Service. He described some of the more common schemes -- one known as the granny scam where a caller pretends to be a loved one in distress and requests that money be wired immediately.
Then there’s the kidnapping scheme.
“A caller claims that they’ve kidnapped their grandchild and they’re demanding money or they’ll hurt the person,” Solomon said. “Other scams such as fake charity scams, IRS threatening people to say that they’re going to be arrested, as well as utility frauds where people are calling up claiming to be the utility company and they’re going to shut down their power or their gas unless they go out to CVS and purchase gift cards. These are some of the up-and-coming scams that we’ve seen over the last several years.”
Solomon said technology has enabled the scams to become more sophisticated. Even caller IDs can be altered. He said a basic tip is to never provide information on an incoming call.
Solomon trains law enforcement and the private sector. He’s also part of the graduate investigations faculty at the University of New Haven, where they now have a financial crimes investigation program.