Surely one reason that elderly people are more often scammed is that there are more attempts to scam them. And this is for the same reason that the burglar gave for robbing banks, because that is where the money is. Given the age structure of the distribution of wealth, why wouldn’t you choose to try to scam someone with savings rather than someone without?
Having worked in retail banking, I can confirm that those particular individuals are the precise target (not just online but in person). Older people who had successful businesses their whole lives or good jobs and saved and are now typically liquid to six figures outside of pension. You wouldn’t believe how ‘well’ they are targeted. They are not stupid, they are extremely vulnerable. This typically means failing health (mental and or physical), no support networks or family and in most cases chronic, debilitating loneliness and isolation.
I buy the FT every weekend. To reiterate that these victims aren’t stupid and are targeted for their age and wealth - there was a story last week of a widow in the wealthiest area of HK (so world essentially) who was scammed out of 33 million USD. And she wasn’t the first victim in the neighbourhood.
I will freely admit that I nearly fell to an online scam a few years back - my internet was playing silly games on me, and by chance [I think?!], someone called me on my mobile saying they were from BT and had noticed my internet wasn’t working properly. Excellent thought I - what wonderful folk these BT are. Problem with my computer registry, he assures me. Some while later and we’re still on the phone, he’s kind of in my settings and can see what I’m doing via screenshare, asks questions about what’s not working properly etc etc, guides me to an issue there, carefully talks it through - all sounds bona fide to a non-computer person like me and the problem this issue creates is absolutely the problem I was having - and then [we’re about an hour in now if not more] he says I’ll need to pay a small charge for something. Would I mind just logging into my bank account. I opened a tab to do just that, and started typing in the name of my bank to log in and do a transfer. Now I must confess this was a few months after the birth of our boy, and I was exhausted and not concentrating well. But even in my befuddled state, a quiet warning bell started sounding away in the fog that this seemed, well, slightly odd, and it slowly got louder. I defuddled myself and queried why this was necessary - I hadn’t done any logging-in yet - and a minute later he’s effing and blinding at me & me at him, and the phone slams down his side. I must say it quite shocked me, cos I consider myself to be scam-aware but had very nearly fallen straight for it. This was when “strangers” accessing mobile phone numbers was relatively unusual, or for me anyway, but even so - a salutary lesson. He was very good at his work. The weird thing though was that he then called back a few weeks later and tried doing the same thing again. He rather went down in my estimation at that point.
I used to be inundated with calls from BT and Microsoft. Do they know something about my age and wealth that I don’t?
Comments not necessary thank you (I lost my hair at a very early age).
We have had a couple of calls from “Sky” recently. Also there is a warrant out for my arrest for some tax fraud, according to “HMRC”. Must also have been in quite a few accidents I do not seem to recall… It is all just relentless and even if you realise these are scams, frankly super annoying waste of time. Like watching scam baiters’ videos (also a waste of time, but not annoying).
I actually find those fraud arrest warrant ones particularly worrying as they will easily panic a vulnerable person who is, shall we say, not quite as sharp as they were in their youth. I explained that one to my 90-year-old mother and she confessed that if she had received one of those calls before I’d told her about it she almost certainly would have panicked and hit 1, or whatever it is, on the keypad.
What happens when you do press 1? The robot voice and message itself are so laughable (not to victims admittedly) that I’m always tempted just to see what happens next.
I confess I’ve never tried… I suspect they will try and get you to make a fine down payment of some sort or something similar.
I’ve never tried either. I would worry that it would connect me to a foreign premium-rate number who would try to keep me on the line at £5/min or thereabouts. TBH I don’t know if that can be done.
Last week I got two scams on the mobile number, one from “HMRC” warning me about my upcoming fraud case, the other one telling me they were “suspending my social security number”. Ha ha. I always let the recorded message gab on until it runs out on the basis it may cost them more.
Scam calls on the landline have diminished to almost zero now.
I used to have a premium rate 0700 number with a long recorded introduction which I recommended all scammers call me on if they needed to speak to me. It didn’t cost me anything, but it cost them £1/min to use. I never checked their messages of course, which surprisingly they did leave.
The Microsoft support department (always from an Indian bazaar you can hear in the background) has been less interfering of late. So it has deprived me of the pleasure of playing along with them until I have to admit I don’t use Microsoft…
Yes that can be fun, but the last few times I have derived equal pleasure by simply telling them to f*** off.
Incidentally I did the same recently with Google Assistant when it popped up on my phone in a window I couldn’t work out how to close. Amazingly, it confirmed my request in writing (with asterisks!), and obeyed. Software is getting smarter - it never worked with the Office paperclip character
Getting spam calls from real living people hasn’t happened to me for a long time; I’m getting recordings:
-You missed call from your internet service provider, your internet will be cut-off within 24 hours. Press 1…
-This is Amazon, we will will deliver an Ipad/Iphone within 24 hours and debit your account with £399. If you didn’t order this press 1…
-Your National Insurance Number will be deactivated because of illegal activity, press 1…
-This is Amazon. We will be charging you £79 for Prime. Press 1…
I put phone down. The calls tend to come in batches, I got 5 one moring, then you go days without any. When they start I now don’t speak when I pick up the phone and they ring off if they don’t hear a voice.
And just now I got this email:
Your National Insurance has been deactivated
We would like to notify you that your National Insurance Number has been disabled due to fraudulent activity
If you have received a notification regarding it then it means your NIN is also disabled under this protection act.
You are now required to reactivate your NIN by proving your identity and updating your records.
Reactivate your NIN now (link removed)
Date: 28 April, 2021
Reference Number: 44814913935
You have 24 hours to reactivate your nin.
Follow the instructions on your screen.
You can read the entire GOV.UK Agreement here You can also learn more about these updates on our FAQs page[here including a summary of the most notable changes. The updates to the GOV.UK Agreement will take effect on 15 June 2021. If you continue to use our products and services on or after 15 June 2021, you are agreeing to the updated GOV.UK Agreement.
If you do not agree, you can choose to discontinue using the products and services, and close your Microsoft account before these terms become effective. If you are a parent or guardian, you are responsible for your child’s or teenager’s use of Microsoft products and services, including purchases.
Thank you for using Microsoft products and services.
GOV.UK Agreement HMRC Privacy Statement
Frequently Asked Questions
ThThis email was sent from an unmonitored mailbox.
But what’s with the Microsoft references further down? All the linka at the bottom, including the FAQs, go to Microsoft.
Needless to say, I won’t be taking any links.
I must put nin reactivation on my todo list
The office paperclip character was another reason not to use M$ software!
They got rid of that one years ago!
Ingratiating “assistants” are a whole separate area of grief. Popups bearing the information “Hi! I’m Samantha. How can I help?” can be safely instructed. Or dismissed.