Cybercriminals stole billions of older Americans in 2020
Cybercriminals run the gamut. They can pose as bogus “grandchildren” with bogus emergencies hitting real grandparents for money. Or Romeos or Juliets online that promise love and marriage but want to get their hands on one thing: your money. Or online outlets that advertise the sale of personal protective equipment and accept payment, but never deliver.
With the COVID pandemic permeating all parts of life over the past year, fraudsters have committed crimes related to federal COVID-19 relief funds, grants, and loans; improved unemployment benefits; and the alleged online sale of rare products. They also persuaded the victims to hand them over personally identifiable information commit identity theft.
Take advice from the FBI
To prevent such crimes, the FBI offers these key tips.
- Be extremely careful in online communication. Check the sender of an email. Criminals sometimes change a single letter in an email address to make it look like the one you know. Beware of attachments or links. Hover your mouse over a link before clicking to see where it sends you.
- Ask anyone who comes up with something that sounds too good to be true. This advice also relates to so-called medical advice and so-called covert investment opportunities.
- Rely on reliable sources for information. For medical information, ask your own doctor, your health service and the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention. For information on consumer protection, see the Federal Trade Commission; for tax information, try it Internal Revenue Service.
The data in the annual report come from complaints to the FBI Internet Crime Complaints Center. With the number and impact of senior fraud cases increasing, the FBI plans to release its first annual report in the future focusing entirely on senior fraud cases in 2021.