Fraud Article summarized by Hanna Kruczek


How International Fraud Rings Target Older Americans

Hanna Kruczek summarized a wonderful article (from AARP bulletin) about Fraud Rings and how to protect ourselves from them. The entire article can be found at:

Many people still think of fraud as the playground of small-time hustlers. An AARP Bulletin investigation — including interviews with dozens of experts and an examination of thousands of pages of court documents — shows just how systematic this “industry” has become, with fraud operations functioning in much the same manner as legitimate businesses establishing work spaces, purchasing leads, employing staff, setting goals, monitoring results and deploying the latest in technology all in an effort to steal your money. So when you answer that phone call about a prize for a contest you don’t remember entering, or patiently listen to a pitch about a can’t-miss investment opportunity, remember that behind that caller is very likely a sophisticated, professional enterprise.

For $600, would-be criminals can take an online course in identify theft. The practice of American companies outsourcing work overseas, where wages are lower, has unwittingly built up the fraud industry. Call centers for the Caribbean tourism industry and in places like India have trained workers how to communicate with U.S. consumers, and some go on to use those skills at illegal call centers. There, crime breeds crime. Law enforcement officials attributed Jamaica’s high murder rate in 2017 — about twice that of Chicago’s — at least in part to rival gangs stealing fraud leads from each other.

“Sometimes we are chasing a ghost. You catch one and another one pops up to take its place.” Amy Nofziger, Director of AARP Fraud Watch Network

“All the victims, to a person, think they are stupid. And all the perpetrators, to a person, think they are really smart … But this is never a story of dumb versus smart. This is always a story of a trusting person, and a person who is willing to violate that trust.”

Protecting yourself

The takeaway message: If you do respond to that robocall and get connected to a real person, you have initiated a struggle between one (you) and many (the scammers). They are armed and expert at winning you over, using what-ever psychological means necessary to get your money.

The best advice is what you have heard numerous times: Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know. If you do, be sure to hang up the moment that you realize it’s a robocall. Don’t say anything. Be skeptical of any offer that sounds too good to be true. Never agree to a proposition involving your money without doing research. If you do happen to fall for a scam, report it to authorities immediately. But importantly, don’t beat yourself up.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free “watchdog alerts,” review our scam-tracking map, or call our toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect you’ve been a victim.

6 Scams to Dodge in 2020

  1. Job Scams

Crooks find potential victims using online search tools to look for résumés of job seekers.

Pitch: You’re contacted about what sounds like the job of a lifetime and even given a check to cover expenses — just wire money back or send gift cards to cover fees. Only later do you figure out the check is fake.

Method: Usually via email or a professional networking site.

Prevention: Real jobs don’t come at a cost (actual recruiters are paid by the business).

  1. Census Scams

Impostors could pretend to be census takers.

Pitch: You could be asked for your Social Security number or credit card information.

Method: A fake census worker shows up at your door. Or you’re contacted by phone, mail or email.

Prevention: The Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, solicit donations or threaten you with arrest if you don’t cooperate. Census takers carry government IDs. For more information, visit

  1. Election Scams

Scammers send out fake ads as political action committees or pose as pollsters or campaign volunteers.

Pitch: They pretend to be legitimate fundraisers to trick you into giving them your credit card number or sending a “donation” by gift card or wire transfer.

Method: Phone, email, social media posts — the same ways that candidates contact you.

Prevention: Don’t donate to a candidate from an unsolicited pitch. Reach out directly to those you support.

  1. Medicare Fraud

A crook will tell you that you can get a free DNA swab test for cancer, or medical devices or services.

Pitch: To get the free health care, you just need to provide your Medicare number.

Method: This offer usually comes via phone or email. Vans drive through neighborhoods, with people knocking on doors offering tests in return for Medicare numbers.

Prevention: Never give your Medicare number to anyone but a trusted medical professional.

  1. Phishing Scams

Scammers pretend to be Amazon representatives, taking advantage of the fact that the company sent more than 3.5 billion packages last year.

Pitch: You’ll be told a package can’t be delivered until you “confirm” your credit card number.

Method: Crooks send out millions of random emails. Within the email is a link that, if opened, places malware on your computer to harvest data.

Prevention: Don’t give information via a link. Go to Amazon’s website directly.

  1. COVID-19 Scams

You get an email offering a coronavirus vaccine or access to critical medical equipment.

Pitch: Anxiety’s high; you are urged to protect yourself.

Method: Some emails ask for credit card information, then bill you for products that never arrive. Others include a link that will install malware to steal your passwords.

Prevention: Visit government health agency websites for updates. Be wary of emails during a crisis. There is no COVID-19 vaccine.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free “watchdog alerts,” review our scam-tracking map, or call our toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect you’ve been a victim.