Last year Americans lost more than $10 billion to online scams and digital fraud, according to the FBI. The cons targeted every age demographic. People in their 30s filed the most complaints, but seniors were the most susceptible and last year lost $3 billion.
This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi interviewed some seniors targeted through a specific con called the grandparent scam. It's where an imposter pretends to be a grandchild in trouble, afraid to tell their parents, but in need of money.
"They said my grandson had an accident…And to get him out of jail they need $7,600," Judy Attig told 60 Minutes.
Attig and her husband Ron handed the money to a courier who was in on the scam. They said the con artists were very convincing.
When the fraudsters called back looking for more money, the Attigs had been tipped off by a bank teller that they were likely being scammed. The couple recorded a follow-up phone call where the scammers sought an additional $17,000.
The Attig's also provided law enforcement with footage of the courier from their doorbell camera. The authorities used it to identify the female messenger and take down a larger crime ring that stole money from at least 70 seniors.
"Search warrants then were able to take that trail from the download of her cell phones, to connect to several other perpetrators," said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. "From that, a connection of the dots happened to crimes all around…in multiple regions, bringing down really an organized syndicate that was operating across the United States."
The courier was convicted for her role in the scam and is still in prison. The ringleaders of the operation fled the country before they could be arrested. As for the Attigs, they were unable to recover the thousands stolen from them.
The FBI is proud of the work accomplished through the Elder Justice Task Force and the brave victims willing to speak out. Help us protect our seniors by reporting elder fraud incidents to ic3.gov.
You can watch Sharyn Alfonsi's full report, "Targeting Seniors," below.
The video at the top was originally published on May 21, 2023. It was produced by Keith Zubrow and edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.
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