Creating And Protecting Your Legacy

Fraudsters bilk $500K from senior woman – what went wrong?

On Behalf of | May 22, 2023 | Elder Law and Medicaid Planning |

Thanks to the prevalence of the internet, online scams can be found everywhere. While most are easy to spot and avoid, they can still fool more senior individuals, popular targets for cyber fraudsters.

Such was the case with a 74-year-old woman from Hilton Head, SC, duped into opening and installing software claiming to be from PayPal. But the software was remote desktop access malware which unscrupulous individuals used to access the woman’s computer data and personal and financial information.

The fraudsters quietly stole $500,000 from the woman’s checking and savings accounts through a complex scheme. It came to the point that they could even coerce her to make sizable cash withdrawals to buy them gift cards and cryptocurrency. The fraudsters also brazenly reached out to the victim’s son, telling him that his mother was part of a complex fraud scheme and that they would be going after the last of her cash.

How often do seniors get targeted by online scams?

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, over 88,000 victims over 60 lost $3.1 billion to online scams in 2022. That number is a jaw-dropping 84% increase from the total amount stolen in 2021. Technical support fraud, such as the case of the Hilton Head woman, was the second-highest cause of losses that year behind investment fraud.

Whom can you hold responsible for online fraud?

If you have an elder relative who fell for an online scam, it might be challenging to hold anonymous cyber criminals responsible when they haven’t been caught. However, you may be able to hold the banks, online vendors, and financial institutions responsible for not recognizing signs of fraudulent transactions through a lawsuit. This was what the woman’s family decided to go with, as the criminals responsible remain at large.

To ensure that your relative can recover all their financial losses in court, you might also want to hire an attorney with elder law experience. The attorney can also work towards improving your relative’s legal protection from identity theft.