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American National Warns Of Increase In Scams Targeting Senior Citizens

American National Warns Of An Increase In Scams Targeting Senior Citizens


Danville, VA –  American National Bank and Trust Company, headquartered in Danville, Virginia, warns that they are seeing an increase in activities known as “Senior Scams.”

“We are always looking out for our community, and especially our customers. Lately we are seeing an alarming increase in the number of scams that target seniors,” says Jeffrey V. Haley, President and CEO of American National.  He continues, “Scammers exploit our seniors’ trust, convincing them to send large sums of money, sometimes thousands of dollars.”

While Senior Scams can take several forms, American National Bank and Trust Company wants to alert the public to some of the more common scams and how to deal with them:

The Grandparent Scam
In this instance, the scammer will call a senior and say something along the lines of “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?”  Sometimes the scammer has even done research on social media to obtain even more information about the intended target.  Once they’ve convinced the senior of who they are, they use any number of pretenses to obtain money, often in the form of cash or money orders sent through the mail.  Typical scenarios used by scammers are stuck travelers, car accidents and medical emergencies, though there are numerous variations.

How to deal with this:  Whenever receiving a call from a loved one asking for money, call them back at a KNOWN number, not the one that you’re being told to call. If you don’t know the phone number for the loved one who is supposed to be calling, call a family member for whom you do have a number.

The Lottery/Sweepstakes Scam and Inheritance Scam
With these scams, the senior receives a letter, email or phone call informing them that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes (sometimes in another country) or inherited a sizable sum of money. However they are contacted, the victim is told they need to pre pay taxes or fees via cash, money order, wire or prepaid card.  Often, when one payment is made, scammers will come back for another payment and continue until the senior has caught on or has no funds left to send.

How to deal with this:  Know that you will NEVER have to pre pay taxes or fees for winnings.  Also, you will never win a foreign lottery or one that you have not entered.  If notified of an inheritance, consider hiring a professional, such as an attorney or CPA, to help you determine if it is legitimate.

The Romance Scam
Not limited to seniors, this scam has grown with the proliferation of social media and online dating.  For seniors, though, they are often contacted a few months after the death of a spouse, presumably after the scammer reads an online obituary.  The scammer will slowly ease into the scam, establishing an emotional connection with the target.  Then, they typically ask the victim to send money for any number of reasons, but often these relate to their supposed desire to move in with them.

How to deal with this:  Do lots of independent research on someone you meet online, especially if they live a great distance away.  Watch out for empty promises; once one is broken, more will follow.  DO NOT send money to someone you have never met.

Says Haley, “Senior Scams can be especially difficult to detect because victims are often instructed not to tell family members or bank employees about their activity. I encourage families to talk about the potential for these scams before a loved one falls victim.  If you believe you may be a victim, notify law enforcement and your bank right away. We hope by getting the word out about some of these scams, we can help folks not get taken in.”