Why scammers target seniors

Friday, 21st April, 2017

Scammers are getting smarter.

ANYONE can fall for a scam - and scammers are getting smarter and using more sophisticated tricks to dupe thousands of older Victorians every year.

That's according to Consumer Affairs Victoria which is working to reduce the harm caused by scammers by building greater awareness and understanding of online scams amongst older Victorians.

So why are older people easy targets?

According to CAV, older Victorians are attractive targets for scammers, who are professional criminals, because they often have substantial assets and access to life savings and superannuation.

Older people are also the fastest growing online user group. Many go online to keep in touch with their children, family or friends, to correspond via email, watch YouTube videos and catch-up TV, or research and book travel.

Life events such as financial hardship and recovering from illness, loss and trauma, can also leave older people more vulnerable to scams.

Take for example Roger (not his real name) who not long after retirement received an email from a portfolio manager about an investment opportunity.

It couldn't have come at a better time - he'd been thinking about smart ways to invest his hard earned money. The manager promised Roger quick and high returns if he followed his advice. All he had to do was pay a fee and leave the rest up to them.

Martha (not her real name) was forced into early retirement due to a back injury. Money wasn't tight, but the medical expenses were piling up so when she got an email saying the government owed her $5000 in overpaid taxes, it was a dream come true. All she had to do was pay a 'reclaim fee' into a Western Union bank account and the money would be hers.

Both Roger and Martha lost large amounts of money. They had each fallen for a scam.

How can I avoid getting scammed?

Here are some tips from Consumer Affairs Victoria for staying safe online.

  • Do not open suspicious text messages, pop-up windows, or emails.
  • Be wary of any emails or requests on social media from people you do not know.
  • Avoid sending money, personal or financial details to someone you have never met in person, especially if you are looking for love online.

Think you're a scam savvy senior? Take this quiz and find out at

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