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Internet Financial Elder Abuse

What Is Internet Financial Elder Abuse?

The elderly face a wide variety of abuse and fraud risks, including physical elder abuse, financial elder abuse, and emotional elder abuse. The very last thing the elderly need is another form of abuse to guard against, but, unfortunately, those who would take advantage of the elderly are constantly updating their tactics in hopes of ensnaring new victims. One of the fastest-growing dangers to the elderly is internet financial elder abuse, which generally occurs when scammers use the internet, including social media platforms, to defraud the elderly. Such abuse and fraud can take a significant financial and emotional toll on its victims. If you or someone you care about has been the victim of internet financial elder abuse, a California financial elder abuse attorney may be able to help you recover.

The Elderly Are at High Risk for Internet Financial Elder Abuse

The elderly have always been prime targets for all types of fraud and scams, but they are particularly vulnerable to financial elder abuse via the internet. This is because the elderly are not “digital natives.” Unlike Millennials and Generation Z, the elderly did not grow up with the internet, making online interactions far less natural for them. Whereas members of younger generations can often instantly recognize suspicious-looking websites and potential online scams, those red flags may not be as obvious to the elderly — even those who consider themselves relatively tech-savvy. This can lead to scenarios in which the elderly more easily fall into traps that others avoid. 

Common Types of Internet Financial Elder Abuse Schemes Targeting the Elderly

Internet financial elder abuse is a form of financial elder abuse that aims to defraud the elderly primarily through the use of online tools. While many forms of financial elder abuse can be perpetrated online, internet financial elder abuse involves technology-based fraud schemes or the use of technology itself to commit fraud. The perpetrators of internet financial elder abuse count on their potential victims being unable to recognize the warning signs of such fraud and thus participate in it willingly.

Some of the most common types of internet financial elder abuse our California financial elder abuse attorneys see include:

Phishing Schemes

Phishing schemes are an older form of internet financial elder abuse but are no less harmful than any other type. They occur when a scammer — often posing as a business or government entity — contacts the victim via email or social media in an attempt to gain access to the victim’s personal information. Phishing emails often take the form of official-looking correspondence claiming that there is some sort of problem with the victim’s account that needs to be addressed. The victim is then prompted to enter their username, password, Social Security number, credit card number, or any other information. The scammer then uses that information to steal the victim’s money or identity.

Tech Support Scams

Tech support scams are another rapidly growing threat to seniors. They typically occur when the scammer causes a pop-up window to appear on the victim’s screen telling them that there is a problem with their computer. Scammers may also contact the victim via email, phone, or text. The scammer then poses as tech support who promises to “fix” the problem in an attempt to:

  • Gain access to the victim’s personal information
  • Demand payment for non-existent software or security subscriptions
  • Hack into the victim’s computer, lock them out, and demand a ransom
  • Install viruses or malicious software on the computer

Such tactics often involve the use of “scareware” — i.e., urgent messages claiming that the computer has been infected with a virus or that the user’s files have been compromised.

“Catfishing” & Online Romance Scams

“Catfishing” is a form of online fraud that occurs where the perpetrator invents a fake persona — including a name, photographs, personal backstory, etc. — in an attempt to gain the victim’s affection and confidence. Such schemes are often perpetrated through online dating websites and apps that allow users to communicate digitally without meeting in person. Once the scammer gains the victim’s trust, they often ask for money or personal information from the victim. If the users have exchanged explicit photographs or communications, the scammer may threaten to release them if their demands are not met.

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Internet Financial Elder Abuse With Help From a California Financial Elder Abuse Attorney

Internet financial elder abuse is one of the most significant and fastest-growing threats the elderly face today. If you or someone you care about has been its victim, you should act swiftly to minimize further damage. For more information, please contact a California financial elder abuse attorney at the Evans Law Firm, Inc., by using our online contact form or calling 415-441-8669 or toll-free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

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