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FBI warns older New Mexicans about online frauds, scams

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Population lost more than $17 million last year

New Mexicans over the age of 60 lost more than $17 million in online frauds and scams last year, according to a special report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

IC3 said 759 of the state’s senior residents lost more than $17 million in 2023. The costliest types of scams for the elderly in New Mexico were Confidence/Romance Scams at $4.9 million,  Investment Scams at $4.6 million, and Tech Support Scams at $3.1 million.

“The FBI along with our state, local and federal partners work to investigate fraud and scams, but the key is prevention and awareness,” Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda of the Albuquerque FBI Division said. “We urge our older residents as well as their families to educate themselves about online frauds and scams and to report any cases to the Internet Crime Complaint Center via ic3.gov.”

If you believe you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, contact the local FBI office at (505) 889-1300 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.

 

WHY OLDER ADULTS ARE VUNERABLE

As a growing part of the U.S. population, older people are an attractive target for fraudsters and scammers. This demographic tends to have more financial stability, which makes them a target for criminals looking to make a quick profit. Older Americans may be more easily intimidated or lonely, making it harder for them to get help.

In a romance scam, criminals pose as interested romantic partners on social media or dating websites to capitalize on their elderly victims’ desire to find companions.

Investment Scams involve complex financial crimes which are often pitched as low-risk investments with guaranteed returns. They are comprised of advance fee frauds, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, market manipulation fraud, real estate investment fraud and trust-based investing such as cryptocurrency investment scams.

Tech support scams, sometimes referred to as call-center scams, overwhelmingly target older adults by calling to help them with a problem. The criminals pose as support staff from a computer or software company and trick unsuspecting PC users into giving up access to their computer and bank accounts.

 

LEARN MORE AND PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONES

Older people may know to be wary of physical crimes (like always locking their doors). But they may not have the same level of awareness to protect themselves against scams. That’s why families and caregivers should be aware of the risks and learn how to report suspected crimes.

Visit the FBI elder fraud page to learn about common fraud schemes that target older people as well as practical tips on how to protect yourself or your loved ones from scammers.

Staff Reports