“This time of year, older people are shut in and they become lonely,” she said. “This woman had lost her husband and was lonely. She ended up sending $150,000 after getting into a relationship with a man online and lost it.”
Activity on social media is one of the activities that can lure older adults into possible problems, according to Monnin.
“Anybody can be a victim — nobody is immune — but I think older grandparents get on Facebook to see pictures of their grandkids and to stay in touch,” she said. “But ultimately end up being lured into scam.”
Getting a phone call from someone purporting to be the IRS and claiming money is owed is another popular swindle. Also, calls asking an older parent or grandparent for money because a loved one is in trouble are common.
“We had a case involving someone in Fairfield who sent $7,200 cash because they were told their grandson was in trouble and wouldn’t be able to return to college at UCLA,” Monnin said. “These scam artists work hard to build personal relationships with people and appeal to their emotional side.”
While catching and prosecuting the perpetrators can be tough, Monnin said that there is momentum building in not only tracking scammers down, but also find a way to get people their money back.
She pointed to a recent class action suit against Western Union that will allow people bilked out of money to recoup their lost cash. Last year, the money wire giant admitted to helping scammers who stole millions of dollars.
Anybody was scammed via a Western Union transaction from Jan. 1, 2004 to Jan. 19, 2017 has until Feb. 12, 2018 to have a claim verified and have an opportunity to get money back. People wanting to file a claim must do so through the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
“This is a great development in the battle against scammers,” Monnin said.
MORE: Butler County woman’s mother scammed out of $250,000
Sandra Guile of the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau said her agency is on the lookout for another type of scam — bad gym membership contracts.
Gym membership contracts can be confusing and misleading, she added, so it is important to read over the details carefully before signing.
“Take the contract home and read it carefully before signing to determine whether or not it’s right for you,” Guile explained. “It should include all the services provided, including any group fitness classes offered, as well as any other benefits discussed in your visit.”
But ultimately, making the commitment and the time to take advantage of what the new membership can offer is important.
“Joining a gym is a great way to get healthier and meet new people, and the new year is a great time to start,” Guile said. “Just make sure you’ve done your research and are comfortable making and keeping the commitment.”
HOW TO CAN GET HELP AFTER BEING SCAMMED
Butler County Adult Protective Services: 513-887-4081
Butler County Crimes Against the Elderly Task Force: 888-662-3673
Ohio Attorney General’s Office:1-800-282-0515
TOP SCAMS TARGETING OLDER RESIDENTS
1) The IRS Impersonation scam
2) Sweepstakes Scams
3) Robocalls / Unwanted phone calls
4) Computer Tech Support Schemes
5) Identity Theft
6) Grandparent Scams
7) Elder Financial Abuse
8) Grant Schemes
9) Romance Scams
10) Home Improvement Scams
SOURCE: Butler County Prosecutor’s Office and Law For Seniors