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Why are Seniors So Gullible to Scammers?
Old 12-31-2017, 10:22 AM   #1
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Why are Seniors So Gullible to Scammers?

I just read another article about Nigerian scams. We've all heard about lots of different scams. We've all gotten the phone calls and e-mails. We hear stories about friends, relatives and strangers who took the bait, in spite of the obvious (to us) red flags. It's easy to say the victims are just plain stupid.

But stupid people exist in all age groups. Why do seniors seem especially prone to being taken by these scams?

Let's leave out dementia for this discussion. I've heard so many victims described as without a trace of dementia but "just too trusting." I've also heard it said that "old people are more trusting."

People of my parents' generation survived a depression and a world war. They must have developed pretty good survival skills, and gathered a lot of experience. I doubt they were any more gullible or trusting than younger people are today.

So why do they start trusting Nigerian princes and door-to-door salesmen when they get old?
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:24 AM   #2
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I think that older generations were more trusting and compliant to authority figures. Baby boomers were weaned on defiance.
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:29 AM   #3
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I don't think they really are more gullible.

Surprise! Millennials More Likely to Be Scam Victims Than Boomers
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Everyone knows that older Americans especially the elderly are the most likely to be scam victims, right? Turns out, this is a myth.
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We are all at risk, but younger and more educated individuals are actually the most likely to be scammed.
Emma Fletcher, BBB Institute
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:30 AM   #4
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Some old folks are lonely and these scammers call them everyday and befriend them. One person I know changed her phone # and the scammers sent a taxi to her home with a phone to talk to them! They sent her a suitcase full of money that was full of paper. She had to send them more money to open the case. Unbelievable.
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:32 AM   #5
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I'm pretty sure there is a component related the the physiology of the older brain. Similar t why do teens think the way they do?

No time to look that theory up at the moment.
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:32 AM   #6
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A lot of it is fear based tactics. We send 18 yr. olds off to war because they don't have this fear.

Now, as for those kids... I would contend that they are pretty gullible too, but in a legal scam sort of way. Marketing is still alive and well and companies are legally selling all of us crap, that we dutifully eat up. The best scam is one that doesn't appear to be one at all. For example, a certain company recently admitted to slowing down your device because they were "helping" your user experience. Right.
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:43 AM   #7
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I suspect the senior scams simply generate more publicity than when some senior's life savings are stolen than when someone steals the life savings of a 26-year-old. At age 67, I have more money than I've ever had in my life; at 26 my net worth was probably about zero.

So I'd get far more sympathy if I was scammed out of my life savings now than if I was scammed at 26 because now I don't have time to recover from the loss. At 26 I did.
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Old 12-31-2017, 10:48 AM   #8
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I would suspect that it is a certain percentage of all populations that are suspect to being fooled by a scammer. Con artists have been around since Eve held an apple...

I suspect that it is a mental capability issue. We are all vulnerable, if the information hits the right spot.
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Old 12-31-2017, 11:08 AM   #9
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Here you go about possible physical explanation (article from 2012):

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...idays/1746911/



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Financial scams abound around the holidays, and it's long been known that the elderly are more vulnerable.Now, scientists are learning why: New research suggests age-related changes in the brain make it harder to detect suspicious body language and other warning signs that people may be untrustworthy.
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The new brain research, published Dec. 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds older people, more than younger adults, may fail to interpret an untrustworthy face as potentially dishonest. The study, led by Shelley Taylor, a professor of psychology at UCLA, was funded by the National Institute on Aging.


"Many people think this problem exists because the post-war generation is more trusting than other generations,'' says Taylor. "They may very well be more trusting, but what we've discovered is this is based on neurological changes. The Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials are all going to face this as they age."
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Old 12-31-2017, 11:53 AM   #10
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When my dad was never one to lend or gift money for any reason unless there was a signed contract and a ledger for repayment or receipt to prove that the money was indeed spent on what ever the borrower needed it for. He wouldn't even loan or gift a dime to any of his grand kids for their college. By the time he was in his 70's, he had been scammed so many times that he was beyond just broke, he was destitute. Any time I tried to discuss it with him, he would get mad at me and tell me it's his money and he'll spend it any way he wants to. When he sold his house and moved into assisted living, all the profit was gone within a year. He fell for every scam imaginable; TV infomercials with pills for everything from erectile dysfunction to weight loss were the worst. Then those computer scams where they'll 'fix' your computer over the phone while they log in remotely. Finally the e-mails.
Once all the money was gone and all he had was his monthly pension and SS, he was somewhat limited on what he could spend, but he'd still sign up for everything.
At 84 I finally was able to get him to agree to go to a doctor and he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and dementia. He refuses to believe any of it and on top of that, he's convinced he's as sharp as he was in his 30's, just a little slower. He's really pissed he can't drive any more. I've moved him in with me and after 10 months, I've managed for him to save $30,000 and got him an additional VA pension of $1,800 a month tax free related to his serving in Korea.

I'm convinced elderly who are suckers for scams are in the first stages of dementia of some sort. Especially if it's not been their personality prior. If you see a change in someone's personality like this, get 'em to a doctor for an eval.

I know you asked for dementia to be left out of this, but it's the most likely explanation. Just because a layman doesn't want to acknowledge it, doesn't mean it's not the diagnosis.

BTW, my dad is still highly intelligent. If you told him how much you bought a house for, how long ago, the interest rate and loan particulars and the current appraisal value on that house, he could tell you the net growth, profit, etc faster than you could even finish asking the question. The guy is a walking calculator. He reads the newspaper every day and can discuss any current event. Dementia doesn't mean stupid. It means there's some PART of the brain isn't functioning as it once did. My dad was able to fool everyone not closely related to him for almost 2 decades that he was heading that way. It's not obvious, not at first. It creeps up on people until it's a crisis it seems.
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Old 12-31-2017, 01:46 PM   #11
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I think older people living by themselves are often lonely. Even folks who are loners need some social interaction.
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:31 PM   #12
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I think older people living by themselves are often lonely. Even folks who are loners need some social interaction.
Hopefully I won't fall for financial scams as I age. But it's a real possibility for singles. Married couples have a spouse to help monitor things. Maybe I can talk a young babe into moving in with me. Surely she wouldn't be after my money.
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:32 PM   #13
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I suspect the senior scams simply generate more publicity than when some senior's life savings are stolen than when someone steals the life savings of a 26-year-old. At age 67, I have more money than I've ever had in my life; at 26 my net worth was probably about zero.

So I'd get far more sympathy if I was scammed out of my life savings now than if I was scammed at 26 because now I don't have time to recover from the loss. At 26 I did.
+1

In addition, there are a lot of scams perpetuated via various aspects of the "adult entertainment" industry against what one would think are knowledgeable males that rarely see the light of day due to the victim not wanting it to be known, and for which they would get little sympathy.
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:36 PM   #14
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Why do seniors seem especially prone to being taken by these scams?

So why do they start trusting Nigerian princes and door-to-door salesmen when they get old?
It's foolish to generalize an entire generation and assume they all act the same way.

That said, some of the older seniors are not as familiar with the nuances of email as younger folks, haven't learned how to block spam, and haven't learned to doubt everything they read.
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:51 PM   #15
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I think older people living by themselves are often lonely. Even folks who are loners need some social interaction.
This is true. I am by no means a loner, I stay in contact with my kids, my girl friend, and I have several good friends in my building alone.

But looking back, life was perhaps best for me when I was married with children at home. Next best was when I could share a large house with other people.

Making friends was easiest as a kid, next in high school, next in college.

Ha
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:51 PM   #16
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Thanks for reinforcing my position that DM at nearly 88 has no need for email. Snail mail and hone will work just fine.
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Old 12-31-2017, 03:21 PM   #17
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This is true. I am by no means a loner, I stay in contact with my kids, my girl friend, and I have several good friends in my building alone.

But looking back, life was perhaps best for me when I was married with children at home. Next best was when I could share a large house with other people.

Making friends was easiest as a kid, next in high school, next in college.

Ha
This is one reason I feel so much better with Dad in assisted living. As he aged and movement became difficult, he became increasingly isolated. He didn't participate in any activities anymore other than going out for meals. Long time friendships declined to almost nothing - friends died, moved away, or became disabled/ill. Others got busy and didn't visit nearly as often. It's hard to maintain friendships when you get old and feeble and not out doing things in the community.

He's got his "nest" at assisted living - his room that he can spend time alone in, and that has everything he likes in reach. But he sees other people at meals and whenever he wants. He has made some friends - not close, but people he enjoys shooting the breeze with. I can see his mood in general is more upbeat.
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Old 12-31-2017, 05:20 PM   #18
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I'm pretty sure there is a component related the the physiology of the older brain. Similar t why do teens think the way they do?

No time to look that theory up at the moment.
My mother does not have dementia. Yet, her reasoning skill has significantly deteriorated. Here's an example.

The other day, she drove her car into a pile of dirt, and some parts fell off the car. I came and fixed it for her, but told her that the intake airbox broke off and could not be reattached. I also told her that the missing airbox might or might not affect the car performance.

She later called me and said that because my brother knew a mechanic who worked at home on side jobs, she had called my brother and left the following instructions on his answering machine. My brother, when he got home after work, was to call that mechanic immediately in order for the mechanic to come to her house to look it over that night. It was so that the mechanic could buy necessary parts to repair her car the next morning.

I tried to tell her that it was not possible to have instant attention from any mechanic the same night, particularly that it was 2 nights before Christmas. Well, I guess it might be possible if she was willing to pay the mechanic many thousand dollars for this job, and even then he might not be able to get the part the next morning.

She got upset with me for saying the above!
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Old 12-31-2017, 06:09 PM   #19
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At 75 I guess I'm considered a 'senior'...albeit a cynical, skeptical senior whose first (unspoken generally but not solely) thought is "What the **** do you want?" when approached.
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Old 12-31-2017, 07:37 PM   #20
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At 75 I guess I'm considered a 'senior'...albeit a cynical, skeptical senior whose first (unspoken generally but not solely) thought is "What the **** do you want?" when approached.
That's neither dementia or senility, but rather experience. After all, who wants to chat up a 75YO geezer unless they want something from ya.
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