If you attended a Passover Seder recently, you likely covered the 10 plagues. If not that, perhaps, in the spirit of the season, you watched “The Ten Commandments,” one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.
Ten plagues feature prominently in both, and it has occurred to me that we are experiencing our own 11th plague, and it is fierce.
The practice of scam artists has risen to a new level, thriving at a time when we feel particularly vulnerable. Consider this: In the United States, the scamming industry is estimated to be $29 billion and growing. Consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion in 2021, a 70% increase over the prior year.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in 10 adults in the United States falls victim to a scam every year.
These fraudsters target the most vulnerable part of our population — the elderly — by playing on their victims’ emotions and lack of confidence.
The most frequent scams include:
Before you know it, you are smitten, and the suitor suggests moving the communication to a private channel. You get closer and plan to meet, but inevitably, you don’t. Then a medical emergency comes up, and the scammer needs money to manage the crisis.
The scammer requests gift cards or cryptocurrency or maybe a wire transfer. This scam also hits the elderly. In 2021, AARP reports that for people over 70, the romance scam cost the victim, on average, $9,000.
If you are reading this article, there is a significant chance you know someone who fell prey to these heinous individuals and organizations (yes, it is an organized, well-orchestrated activity). Your loved one probably feels embarrassed and confused.
You can do a few things. You can help them feel better by sharing that even worldly people like Helen Mirren (phone scam fraud) or Prince Charles (art fraud) succumbed to fraudsters. That may help emotionally but doesn’t protect them for the next iteration.
More treacherous mousetraps are being built all the time. We can say, “Don’t take calls from people you don’t know,” “Don’t issue gift cards,” and “Keep your Social Security number private,” but it likely won’t be enough.
Who will be our modern-day Moses coming to the rescue?
Editor’s note: Jill Ebstein is the editor of the “At My Pace” series of books and the founder of Sized Right Marketing, a consulting firm. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.