In 2018, there were six validated reports of financial fraud against Collin County residents age 65 and older, according to data from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
The number of unvalidated allegations is 180.
From robocalls to emails with false links, these deceptions fall under a category of crime called elder financial fraud. McKinney Police Detective Tina Malenfant said seniors in Collin County are at risk as well.
“Elderly scams are growing and can occur anywhere,” Malenfant said in an email. “To the scammers, elderly victims are an easy target.”
There can be many reasons why seniors are targeted, according to information from the State of Texas Attorney General’s Office. Seniors may need more help with their finances, and they also tend to be more trusting of others.
In addition, criminals tailor their scams to seniors, such as falsely providing them more affordable medications, officials said.
Malenfant said she has seen several types of elder fraud in McKinney. More and more people are doing romance scams, she said, where a scammer will court their victims for months to gain their trust; then, they ask for money for a false emergency or information about their victim’s bank account.
But senior scams do not just happen on the phone or over the internet, she said. Sometimes, criminals will find the home of an elderly person and pretend to be a roofer or someone who needs to do work in their backyard. They will distract the victims and lure them outdoors while a second person slips in and burglarizes the residence, Malenfant said.
“These scammers read their victims’ social media account[s] and research them,” she said.
The McKinney Police Department regularly hosts presentations about fraud against seniors and about identity theft. They often take these presentations to senior citizen centers and to assisted living homes for seniors, Malenfant said.
“It is our hope to help educate the elderly so that they do not become victims,” she said in her email.