FRANKLIN, Ind. — Investigators are warning of a recent rise in scams targeting people over the age of 65 in central Indiana and across the country.
Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office partnered with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office to show seniors what red flags to look out for – emphasizing the internet is one place to start. They said advancing technology and easy access to social media create the perfect storm.
“These seniors are trusting,” Johnson County detective James Bryant said. “They’re from a generation that always answers the phone.”
Scammers set their sights on older populations with more money and less debt – sometimes because they’re not as tech-savvy. But Bryant said another vulnerability is what he calls the “Midwest mentality.”
“People from Indiana were raised with beliefs that all people were good,” Bryant said. “These criminals know that and they take advantage of that.”
He said not only is the frequency of scam reports rising – so is monetary loss.
“What might’ve been a hundred or a thousand dollars in years past is now tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars – which is life-changing for some of these people,” Investigations Commander Damian Katt said.
The Better Business Bureau said by this time last year, roughly $13,000 in losses were reported from the beginning of 2022. Year to date in 2023, central Indiana seniors have been defrauded of nearly $300,000 dollars – with online purchases being the most common type of scam.
“The FBI’s threshold used to be $100,000,” Bryant said. “It’s much higher now, and they’re as busy as we are.”
Detectives said the internet makes cases more difficult to investigate and prosecute because criminals are often working from other countries.
“I follow IP addresses that take me to exchanges that are overseas and I don’t have any jurisdiction over there,” Bryant said.
Bryant said scammers commonly prey on seniors using dating apps. Or they’ll call – pretending to be a family member in jail who needs bail money. Sometimes they’ll claim the victim is a lottery winner and needs to pay taxes on the win. He wants seniors and their peers to be equipped with the information they need to protect themselves.
Katt encourages anyone sensing something suspicious should slow down and ask questions before giving personal information to anyone – in person or online.
Officials also say if you have loved ones 65 years or older, you should have this conversation with them to help prevent them from becoming a victim.
Unfortunately, fly-by-night con artists are on the rise, and we’ve seen an increase in reported scams at the local, state, and national level. That’s why Attorney General Todd Rokita is partnering with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office to educate seniors on the latest trends, including how to spot them and what to do if you fall victim to a scam. Never hesitate to let our office know if this happens to you. You can always file a complaint at indianaconsumer.com or call Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office at 1-800-382-5516.Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office spokesperson