Charleston, SC

Older South Carolinians lost $10 million to cybercrimes

Libby-Jane Charleston

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Too many senior citizens are falling victim to fraud@FBI

Cybercriminals have cost older South Carolinians more than 10 million dollars in 2020, according to a new report by the FBI.

The report states 1,350 people, aged 60 and older, were victims of cybercriminals last year.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart is urging people to do all they can to protect senior family members so they're aware of cybercrimes and don't fall victim to their scams and tricks.

“Criminals often prey on those they believe are most susceptible to their schemes,” DeHart said. “Unfortunately, this means our elder neighbors are highly targeted by exploitative cybercriminals. It is critical that all South Carolinians, particularly those over the age of 60, be vigilant of such crimes and that, when and where able, family members assist in protecting their elders to prevent them from falling victim to such crimes. Know that the investigative work of the FBI and the prosecutorial efforts of the elder fraud division in our office will not end until such predatory cybercrimes come to a halt.”

Across the nation, the total jumped to more than $1 billion for victims in the same age range, representing 28 percent of all losses reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

According to the report, among the most common scams against seniors in 2020 were extortion, non-payment/non-delivery, tech support fraud, and identity theft.

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Criminals use all kinds of tricks to gain the trust of their victimsMatthew Bennett/Unsplash

Some of these crimes stemmed from the new use of digital purchasing of goods during the pandemic.

“Just as many seniors take extra precautions to protect themselves from physical crimes – be it through constant knowledge of what is going on outside their homes or by consistently keeping doors blocked, the same effort should be made to protect themselves from online scams,” DeHart said.

In 2020, the Internet Crime Complaint (IC3) received a total of 791,790 complaints with reported losses exceeding $4.1 billion. Each year, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud or internet scheme, such as romance scams, tech support fraud, and lotteryor sweepstake scams.

Criminals gain their targets’ trust or use tactics of intimidation and threat to take advantage of their victims. Once successful, scammers are likely to keep a scheme going because of the prospect of significant financial gain.

It's only by victims reporting fraud that the FBI can identify trends, educate the public, and support investigations. According to the IC3, nowhere is this more important than crimes against seniors

Any victim of cybercrimes can contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

They can also call 1-833-FRAUD-11 to report it to the FBI and the Department of Justice’s National Elder Fraud Hotline.

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I'm a journalist and author writing across a wide range of topics, including tech, travel, history, business/startups, relationships, beauty & fashion, British royal history, & local stories concerning Charleston, S.C (where I have a long family history on my father's side: hence my surname! ) Former HuffPost Assoc Ed, ABC TV, ATV Beijing correspondent and many more. Author of "Fatal Females." Mother of three boys: I will love them until the Statue of Liberty sits down.

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