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Seniors: Why con artists might target you next

Online scams are becoming increasingly common, and seniors are one of the most vulnerable...
Online scams are becoming increasingly common, and seniors are one of the most vulnerable groups during the pandemic.(Live 5)
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 1:05 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Since the beginning of the pandemic, many senior citizens have isolated themselves to avoid the virus, cutting off contact from friends and family. Now, committees are hearing testimonies of scam survivors and seniors who have been the target of scams and frauds due to COVID-19.

The United States Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on Thursday to hear these testimonies, warning seniors of con artists pedaling fake COVID-19 cures, charging outrageous prices for personal protective equipment and even offering a chance at love. South Carolina has been a common target.

One South Carolina woman was scammed of over $10,000 in 2017, and committee members said that these scams are becoming increasingly common, both in South Carolina and across the country. Senior citizens lose more than $36 billion to financial fraud each year, according to the Better Business Bureau, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott said that fraud and scams are “taking advantage of too many of our seniors.”

The hardest hit each year by a certain scam called ‘romance scams’ are between the ages of 60 and 80, the committee said.

Romance scam survivor Kate Kleinert of Glenolden, Pennsylvania says she was scammed in 2020 by ‘Tony.’ “Well, that’s what he told me,” Kleinert said. “We exchanged messages for a number of days, and he told me that he was interested in the same things that he saw on my Facebook page, like dogs and gardening. I thought that was wonderful.”

Kleinert proceeded to fall in love and sent Tony and his ‘family’ money for various reasons, falling victim to the romance scam. “By now, I had sent him a total of $39,000, which to some people is not much but someone in my position is a great deal,” Kleinert said.

The committee says that although these scams are becoming increasingly common, there are ways to protect yourself. You can report fraud to the committee’s Fraud Hotline 1-855-303-9470 weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

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