75 year old Kathleen Eaton decided she wanted a puppy. So, like many do these days, she went online to what she presumed to be a legitimate website to find her future pet. Ms. Eaton emailed the company. They gave her a “discounted” price of 750 dollars. Despite her husband’s uneasy feelings towards how the company was handling the payments, she continued the process. The puppy never arrived. An additional sum of money was requested. At that moment, she knew she had been scammed. The sad reality is that scammers attack vulnerable seniors first.
Ms. Eaton most likely made a common mistake. The New York Times says she probably went to a website she assumed to be one she knew. But scammers now are making websites that are extremely similar to ones we know and trust. This practice is called “spoofing”. It may seem like this is easily avoidable. But Ms. Eaton is hardly alone in falling victim to spoofing.
The pet scam is one of the latest that scammers have used. According to AARP, seniors often are looking for companionship through a pet. So scammers find it easy to prey upon seniors in this way. Besides the pet scam, some newer tactics scammers are using against older people involve Social Security, grand-parenting, and employment.
Scams that capitalize on natural disasters and charity cases are also widely affecting seniors. As Ms Eaton says, “I thought I was scamproof… till my heartstrings got tugged”. This rings true to so many seniors who have been scammed, and unfortunately scammers know this.
Sadly, there is no way to prevent scams against seniors. However, the best thing you can do is to report any activity or even suspicious activity. Seniors are often too embarrassed to report scams. But nobody is immune to this and it’s definitely not your fault if it happens to you. By reporting the incident, you could save thousands of other seniors from the same scams.