LOGAN – Grown children with parents over the age of 60 may want to have a “tech check-in” and review preventive measures to keep their parents from being scammed.

Associated Press reported scammers are getting more sophisticated in their tactics to rick the vulnerable. Last year they stole more than $3.4 billion from older Americans, according to an FBI report. They reported a rise in losses by tricking the vulnerable into sometimes giving up their life savings.

FBI Investigators are warning older Americans of the rise in brazen schemes that drain bank accounts, some involving sending couriers in person to collect cash or gold from victims.

“It can be a devastating impact to older Americans who lack the ability to go out and make money,” said Deputy Assistant Director James Barnacle of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “People lose all their money. Some people become destitute.”

The FBI received more than 100,000 complaints last year from victims of scams over the age of 60, with nearly 6,000 people losing more than $100,000. There is a sharp rise in reported losses by older Americans in the two years after the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, when people were stuck at home and easier prey for scammers to reach by phone.

Investigators see organized, transnational criminal enterprises targeting older Americans through schemes, like romance scams and investment frauds.

One of the most reported fraud schemes among older adults last year was a tech support scam, where criminals pose over the phone as technical or customer service representatives.

Scams are rising in popularity, where criminals impersonate technology, banking and government officials and convince victims that foreign hackers have infiltrated their bank accounts. They then instruct their victims in order to protect their money they should move their money to a secret account controlled by scammers.

Federal investigators are also seeing an uptick of scammers using live couriers to take money from victims by duping them into believing their accounts had been compromised.

Scammers tell victims their bank accounts have been hacked and that they need to liquidate their assets into cash or buy gold or other precious metals to protect their funds. Then the fraudsters arrange for a courier to pick up their cash up in person.

“A lot of the fraud schemes are asking victims to send money via a wire transfer, or a cryptocurrency transfer. When the victim is reluctant to do that, they’re given an alternative,” Barnacle said. “And so, the bad guy will use courier services.”

Earlier this month, an 81-year-old Ohio man fatally shot an Uber driver he thought was trying to rob him after receiving scam phone calls, according to authorities.

The man had been receiving calls from someone pretending to be an officer from the local court who demanded money. The Uber driver had been told to retrieve a package from the man’s home, a request authorities say was possibly made by the same scam caller or an accomplice.

The losses to older Americans are likely undercounted. Only about half of the more than 880,000 complaints reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center last year included information on the age of the victim.

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