Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced today that, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2020 Elder Fraud Report, 1,350 South Carolinians aged 60 or over fell victim to cyber scammers. The report states that these South Carolinians reported losses of nearly $10 million in 2020.
Across the nation, there was over $1 billion in losses by victims aged 60 or over, representing 28% of all losses reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. The average dollar loss by those aged 60 or over nationwide was $9,175.
Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart urges the public to be vigilant of these crimes and to help older family members, so they do not become the next victim of elder fraud scams.
“Criminals often prey on those they believe are most susceptible to their schemes,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “Unfortunately, this means our elder neighbors are highly targeted by exploitative cybercriminals. It is critical that all South Carolinians, particularly those over the age of 60, be vigilant of such crimes and that, when and where able, family members assist in protecting their elders to prevent them from falling victim to such crimes. Know that the investigative work of the FBI and the prosecutorial efforts of the elder fraud division in our office will not end until such predatory cybercrimes come to a halt.”
The release of the annual report from the FBI comes in coordination with the annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, in which the entire Department of Justice echoes voices around the world condemning elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
According to the annual report from the FBI, the most common scams against seniors in 2020 were extortion, non-payment/non-delivery, tech support fraud, and identity theft. Some of these crimes stemmed from the new use of digital purchasing of goods during the pandemic.
“Just as many seniors take extra precautions to protect themselves from physical crimes – be it through constant knowledge of what is going on outside their homes or by consistently keeping doors blocked, the same effort should be made to protect themselves from online scams,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “Should one fall victim to these crimes or any other targeting seniors, they should immediately report it to the FBI and the Department of Justice’s National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11.”
Any victim of cybercrimes can contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.