Fraudsters prey on the elderly: one in four know a victim

Updated: 

portrait of an older woman

Older people are being targeted by fraudsters, scams and dishonest cold callers. One in four carers said they knew of an older person who had been a victim of scammers, and half are worried about the risks to older people.

The survey was done by Ukash - an online cash payment provider which has become an unwitting pawn in the fraudster's game.

Victims

The company pointed out that although one in four carers are aware that they know an elderly scam victim, in reality many more are likely to know a victim without being aware of it. The figures did not include those who are too embarrassed to admit they have been a victim - or have been so taken in by the scammers that they are unaware they have been taken for a ride.

The hotspot for scams targeting the elderly seems to be the South East - where 39% of carers know at least one victim. This is followed by the West Midlands and Scotland at 30%, Wales at 29% and London at 27%.

At the other end of the scale, only 9% of carers in the East Midlands know a victim, 10% of those in Yorkshire and Humberside, 14% in the North East and 19% of those in the East of England.

Around half of carers are concerned that older people are too trusting, and unaware of the risks to their money. "Criminals are taking advantage of the trusting nature of elderly people and using sophisticated scams in the hope they'll hand over their cash or bank details", explained Miranda McLean, Marketing Director of Ukash. "With high pressure tactics being used by the fraudsters, it is easy to understand why older people are being caught out."

The new scam

Ukash adds that there's one particular scam that's on the rise: where the criminals say they can secure PPI windfalls and tax refunds, in return for an up-front fee. McLean explains: "These scammers are very aware that older people are vulnerable and may be in financial difficulty so they know that by offering the chance to reclaim a few thousand pounds worth of PPI compensation they may be able to persuade the victim to pay an advance fee to secure their so-called services."

Many of the scammers will say they cannot take cards - in an effort to extract more money from the victims. Some will ask for bank details - and will then take what they can and run. Others will request Ukash vouchers.

McLean warns: "Carers and family members of the elderly should advise them that Ukash vouchers should only be used online and with official merchants. We urge people to treat their Ukash vouchers like cash and never give them to companies or individuals – even if they know them. We take the use of Ukash by fraudsters very seriously - with a dedicated team working with law enforcement agencies to provide as much assistance as possible if any scams are identified that use Ukash as a payment method."