Scams come in many forms and are sadly on the rise in New Zealand and around the world. I am often contacted by people who are desperately concerned about a close family member who they believe has been caught up in a scam. These are often the most difficult cases to work with as the victim often rejects the idea that the romantic partner or financial opportunity they have been pursuing for months, or even years, is in fact a fraud.
According to a 2015 study in the UK, one in five people over 65 have been victims of a scam and the financial loss they experienced is twice that of younger victims. Older adults are often regarded as easy targets as they are more likely to be trusting and polite and feel lonely and less needed by their families. They are also more likely to be financially secure and are less likely to admit to others that they are caught up in a scam.
While older people are commonly targeted, it’s important to realise that anyone can be caught up in a scammer’s web whether you are male or female, young or old, internet-savvy or technically challenged. I have dealt with many cases of scams where the victims were wealthy, financially literate, highly educated professionals. Scammers are adept at understanding and exploiting their victim’s vulnerabilities.
The tactics fraudsters use include befriending or ‘grooming’ potential victims as well as threats and intimidation. Scammers may exploit their victim’s trust by making a fraud appear to be a legitimate offer from a reputable business or official institution.
Common signs to look out for if you are concerned that someone you know is being scammed, are:
- Withdraws from family members. Scammers will often alienate their victims from family members to keep them isolated from loved ones who might be able to help them.
- Starts to mention a new “friend” but is defensive or evasive when questioned about them. Victims of scams naturally want to talk about their exciting new relationship, but they will often be warned by the scammer not to divulge too much to family members.
- Becomes unusually moody (either very happy or stressed and anxious). Fraudsters will often initially shower attention and flattery on their target. Once they have drawn them in, they will often become controlling and even intimidating. This keeps their target off-balance and eager to please in order to get back in the scammer’s “good books”.
While no one wants to admit they, or a family member, is a victim of a scam, we will work with you discreetly and in confidence to expose the scammer. We often use surveillance techniques to quickly find out the truth about a scammer’s identity and intentions.
To speak confidentially with Julia if you think you or your loved one may be a victim of a scam, please ring (09) 536 5500 // mobile: (0274) 882 802 email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Julia will provide you with expert advice and a no-obligation guide on how you can take practical steps to find out the truth.