Making Money at Home: Single Moms, Elderly Huge Targets for Scams
We have all seen them. You know, those enticing, work-at-home advertisements online promising the big bucks. They show pictures of exceedingly happy people with huge grins standing in front of a large mansion and a Ferrari. There’s a mom, holding a child. There’s a happy elderly couple. And there’s always the photo of the young lady throwing up piles of money. Wherever you go online, there’s always a work-at-home business opportunity advertising this way. And it’s unfortunate that these “opportunities” tend to target the most vulnerable populations in society: single mothers, young women, and the elderly.
You’d think these swindlers would have been driven out of business long ago. But, they haven’t. In fact, they are increasing in number, almost too fast to count and keep up with. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, losses from cybercrime total approximately $400 million globally each year. One fraud replaces the other and they just keep coming back. New scams and con-artists are being born each day.
But why target the elderly and single moms? Con-artists are well aware how much these populations struggle, sometimes to sheer desperation, at earning enough income to meet their needs, especially when the economy is stagnant and unemployment is at an all-time high. The scam artist uses the fears and weaknesses of people who fall on hard times.
The promise of major bucks to usher in the "good life" isn't a tough sell. Money-making scams exploit the greed and neediness of people, not only this, but also rely on the old adage that "there's a sucker born every minute." And sometimes it appears that it might be worth the risk to test it out to see if a particular opportunity has something to offer. This trial and error approach in our high technology times can be detrimental to our welfare. If you were in dire straits before, its way beyond that after the scam finally runs its course. One woman, a single mom, commented on a forum how she was taken by an internet scam promising good money from home. The program was called A to Z Cash System. She was on a "squeeze page" that displayed a price of over $20. Then as she made an attempt to navigate away from the page, a pop up appeared telling her that the price just dropped for $4.97. She then went ahead and gave them her credit card information. Long story short, this scam didn't just stop at $4.97; they drained her entire bank account!
Another popular con claims to provide government grants and loans to single moms to be used for any purpose. In 2013, Pia Sims of Memphis, TN stole the identities of 672 people using this ruse. Police officers discovered $50,000, social security numbers, debit-cards and other identification documents of well over 600 people in her car. The 26 year old woman also had tax documents from 20 people in her possession. They say that they believe there are more victims out there in other states. She bought expensive cars and homes, and sold the identities of people on the black market. This is referred to as ID theft trafficking.
Obama Moms Grants Scam
Robert Shireman, former deputy undersecretary of the United States Department of Education says the ads pictured above have become "ubiquitous." And its true. Any website you go to, you're bound to see them. They're all over the place. Shireman also said that there is not any type of grants that are specific to single moms, so essentially they are all bogus.
What's taking place is that these ads direct single moms to provide their email info and a bit of information about the type of major they are interested in studying in college. Then a bunch of for-profit schools begin relentlessly contacting them, calling constantly. These schools are earning up to 90% of their income from federal grant monies alone. Single mothers are being targeted also by online marketers who sell information to companies. Many of them report that they first see the information about Obama Grants in an email message.
Senior Citizen Fraud is Big Business
Swindlers targeting seniors and the elderly are especially of the lowest order, as they tend to take advantage of those who are no longer able to make sound financial decisions due to aging and illness. Seniors are also least likely to report this type of crime to the authorities, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Schemes Targeting the Elderly:
Health Care Scams
Telemarketing & Internet Scams
Health Insurance Schemes
Reverse Mortgage Schemes
Funeral and Burial Schemes
Medical Equipment Scams
U.S. Treasury Direct Accounts Scheme
Lab Testing Schemes
Pump and Dump Scheme
Fake Prescription Drug Schemes
Credit Card Fraud
The senior citizen is a prime target for fraudulent schemes because:
- They tend to have a good deal of money saved up.
- They plan for retirement and desire to add to and protect their nest egg.
- They have an interest in improving their health and physical status.
- They tend to have memory problems due to aging and health conditions.
- They tend to visit the doctor's office more, requiring management of chronic medical conditions.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that millions of people are conned yearly. While scammers use a variety of means, internet fraud is most common and growing. Some common internet schemes include;
Nigerian letter Scams
Credit/Debit Card Scams
Online Auction Scams (EBay)
Selling Non-Existent Products and Services Online (but the company never delivers the goods)
Fake Cashier's Check Scams
Several people, 22 total, have been recently discovered to be running a large online banking scheme costing financial institutions such as Wells Fargo millions. They bought personal ID information including bank account and PIN, addresses, birth dates and social security numbers. Then they would essentially rob the accounts of various people. Additionally, the bandits used stolen signatures to make fake checks and cashed them at the different banks. Special Agent George Piro states that "More and more, criminals are using the Internet to steal millions of dollars from thousands of account holders without ever stepping inside a bank."
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