Attorney General Chris Carr is recognizing this May as Older Americans Month by sharing key tips and resources to help all Georgians recognize, prevent, and report the financial abuse and exploitation of older adults.
“During Older Americans Month, we are proud to honor and celebrate the contributions and achievements of older Georgians across our state,” said Carr. “With con artists constantly inventing new ways to perpetrate their crimes, it is important that we all work together to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Learning more about scams and financial exploitation is the first step, and our Consumer Protection Division offers a number of resources to help, including our comprehensive Older Adults Guide.”
Consumer Protection Guide for Older Adults
In 2018, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division created the Georgia Consumer Protection Guide for Older Adults to empower our older adults, their families and caregivers with information to make wise decisions about their money, safety and well-being. The guide covers an array of topics of importance to seniors, including scams, identity theft, credit and debt, reverse mortgages, charitable giving, home repairs, funerals, advance directives, long-term care, elder abuse and more.
The guide is available in English, Spanish, or Korean and free to download from the Consumer Protection Division website.
Visit with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division
Throughout Older Americans Month, representatives from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division have visited with a number of organizations to help educate older adults and caregivers about elder abuse and how to avoid scams. A few of those events include:
- The Georgia Retired Educators Association 63rd Annual Convention in Augusta, Georgia, as hosted on May 3, 2023
- The Free Senior Resource Fair at the Paulding County Senior Center in Dallas, Georgia, as hosted on May 3, 2023
- A webinar for the Metro Atlanta Kiwanis Club as hosted on May 8, 2023
- A webinar for Fulton County Senior Services set to take place on May 12, 2023
Want the Consumer Protection Division to speak to your group? Submit a speaker request form here.
Financial Abuse or Exploitation
Financial abuse or exploitation is defined as the misuse of financial resources for another’s gain. Signs may include:
- Missing money or valuables
- Credit card charges the individual did not make
- Unusual activity in bank accounts
- Unpaid bills, rent or taxes
- Eviction notices
- Legal documents (such as will or power of attorney) signed by an elderly person who could not have understood what he or she was signing
- Signatures on checks or documents that appear to be forged
To report the financial abuse or exploitation of an older adult, contact Adult Protective Services by calling 1-866-55AGING (1-866-552-4464), and press “3.” Georgians can also file an online report with the Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services at aging.georgia.gov/report-elder-abuse.
Common Scams Targeting Older Adults
Each year, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud or confidence scheme, including romance, lottery and sweepstakes scams, to name a few. While these scams can and do happen to people of all ages, the perpetrators often target older adults because they are frequently home during the day, have money saved, and may be too polite to hang up the phone or turn away a solicitor.
Last year, the Attorney General’s Public Integrity and White Collar Crime Unit secured the conviction of a Gwinnett County man for his involvement in a cyber fraud scheme targeting older adults. Specifically, Borin Khoun pleaded guilty to multiple counts of Theft by Taking after stealing more than $230,000 from two senior citizens in California and Arizona.
Some common scams targeting older adults include:
Romance Scam: In a typical romance scam, fraudsters create a fake online profile using someone else’s photos. They profess their love early on, even though they have never met you. They encourage you to communicate with them via email, phone or IM, rather than through the online dating site, so that the dating service won’t have a record of the conversation. They often claim to be traveling, in the military, or living or working abroad to explain why they are unable to meet in person. Once the scammers have your romantic interest and your trust, they make up stories about how they urgently need money and ask you to send it to them immediately via wire transfer or gift cards. If you send the money, you will likely never see it – or hear from the romantic partner – again. In some cases, though, a scammer may try to string a victim along to see if they can get the person to keep sending more money.
Grandparent and Virtual Kidnapping Scams: In these scams, fraudsters use scare tactics to try to get you to pay a large sum of money – typically via wire transfer or gift cards – to rescue a loved one who is in a dire situation. They may pose as your grandchild, a friend of his or hers, or a police officer. They may tell you that your grandchild is badly hurt or in jail and that you must send money immediately to help him or her. In a similar scam, con artists claim to have kidnapped your loved one and insist that he or she will be harmed unless you pay a ransom immediately.
Law Enforcement Imposter Scam: Con artists are using phone spoofing technology to make it appear as though you are receiving a call from a legitimate law enforcement agency. In one reported scenario, the imposters claim that the potential victim was summoned to a federal grand jury and missed the court date. Because of this, the individual is told that they must report to a local law enforcement office for bond and to “process the paperwork.” To resolve the issue, the perpetrators instruct the potential victim to go to a retail store and buy “bond vouchers” in the form of gift cards.
If you think you may have fallen victim to some type of elder fraud, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 404-651-8600 or file a complaint here.
For additional tips on how to recognize and avoid common elder fraud schemes, visit the FBI’s website here.
To report suspected elder fraud to the FBI:
- Contact your local FBI field office
- Submit a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov/
- File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at https://www.ic3.gov/