LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Crimes against older Americans have increased dramatically since the start of the pandemic, and organizations all over metro Atlanta are helping potential victims fight back.
The holiday season brings many opportunities for scam artists to target senior citizens.
Monica Campbell knows what it’s like to be a target. In September she got an email that appeared to come from her daughter asking for $500.
However, it wasn’t her daughter at all.
“What they did was they forged an email using the letters my daughter had plus a number and they got that money out of my account,” Campbell explained.
At the Lawrenceville Senior Center in Gwinnett County, Campbell and others are offered classes to teach them about trending scams, which is all to more useful as the the open enrollment period for Medicare and Medicaid makes them targets.
“We’ll find there’s dummy companies that are out there that will pose as a legit company and often times try to trick seniors into giving social security information and bill Medicaid and Medicare for service they did not provide,” explained Latarsha Williams, the deputy division director of Gwinnett County Health and Human Services.
In addition, the FBI reports romance scams targeting seniors are up 53% since the start of the pandemic with $213 million in losses in 2021. Investment scams have more than tripled.
“A lot of them (seniors) are using technology for the first time to try and connect with family and stay in touch, and that opened them up to a whole range of new possible scams,” Earl Chen, the chief technology officer of Grandpad, explained
Grandpad is a device designed so seniors can limit who contacts them to only people they know.
“Somebody outside that circle, if they try and contact the Grandpad, we don’t want them in,” Chen explained. “We block those calls, we block those emails, we do that kind of filtering for them.”
Monica Campbell knows exactly why she was targeted, adding "they knew I was a senior.”
Now she’ll spend her holidays trying to get her $500 back.