Protecting Your Nest Egg: Top Five Investing Scams Targeting Senior Citizens

By | October 28, 2011

Unfortunately, senior citizens are often the target of fraudulent investment schemes run by scammers from around the world. There are many, many different investment schemes that target seniors specifically. Many scammers will target seniors because they know that seniors have some investable funds and because seniors are often hesitant to report fraudulent activity simply because they are embarrassed at being taken in by scams.

The best way to protect your nest egg is to be aware of different types of fraud that target senior citizens. Here are just five of the top investing scams that many will try to use on senior citizens:

  1. Letter of Credit Fraud
    According to the FBI, this is a very common type of fraud in which a con artist attempts to get you to invest in a letter of credit or a bank guarantee in order to get returns of 100 to 300 percent a year. Banks never actually sell letters of credit, as these letters are meant to ensure that goods are paid for when they are transferred internationally.
  2. Prime Bank Note Fraud
    This is another scheme that promises incredibly high yields over a short period of time. This is similar to the letter of credit fraud, in that scam artists claim to be able to buy bank guarantees at a low rate and resell them several times at a profit. They often spice up their claims of great returns on investment by claiming that the guarantees come from the world’s prime banks.
  3. Funeral and Cemetery Fraud
    There are many different types of funeral and cemetery fraud that work similarly to investment frauds. Senior citizens are often willing to pre-arrange their funerals and cemetery arrangements so that their families do not have to do such things when they are grieving. While these types of fraud aren’t necessarily about investments to get money back, seniors can be tricked into giving up money for funeral or cemetery arrangements with a fraudulent company, which just leads to thousands of dollars lost in the long run.
  4. Telemarketing Fraud
    Older women who live alone are particular targets for various types of telemarketing investment fraud. Supposed investment professionals will call these women with seemingly urgent investment deals that they just can’t pass up. These schemes rely on pressure for immediate funding, saying that the opportunity will be missed if the person doesn’t take advantage of it right away. They often take credit card or bank account information over the phone and press for an immediate release of funds.
  5. Advance Fee Schemes
    Again, this can cover several different types of investment fraud, but the key here is that the so-called investment professional asks for an advance fee. Con artists often try to sell investments by asking for a finder’s fee or advance fee, but they, of course, simply run of with the money they get in advance without offering anything in return.

Protecting yourself from fraud
There are a few basic ways that you can protect yourself from fraud as a senior citizen. Here are just a few tips from the FBI:

  • Always know who you’re giving your money to. If you’ve never heard of a company before, do some research. Find their physical location, and be very wary of “companies” that operate from PO boxes and websites alone.
  • Understand exactly what you’re doing with your money. You should never feel pressured to put your money into something that you don’t completely understand. Also, don’t let scammers make you feel inferior because you are a senior citizen. You were intelligent enough to build up your nest egg, and you still have the know-how to protect it efficiently!
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When it doubt, at least get a second opinion from someone who knows something about investing. Be especially wary of investments that seem to offer too-good-to-be-true returns.
  • Don’t give out your personal financial information online or over the phone unless you are absolutely certain about who you are speaking with. Even then, it’s best to do these things in person in an office setting.

Ashyia Hill at CreditDonkey blogs about personal finance including no fraud liability credit offers.

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