In our blogs, we frequently discuss online frauds that cause victims to lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This tale gives a human face to one of those frauds, as well as the emotional, financial, and personal suffering they can cause.
This story concerns “Barbara,” whose aunt “Leslie” fell prey to a brand-new form of elder fraud performed online. We appreciate Sam raising it and “Barbara’s” family sharing it to help others stay away from scams like this.
“Embarrassing. Really embarrassing”. She gave a head-shake. ” It is overly raw. I am unable to discuss it at this time. I require time.”
Her aunt had fallen for a scam investment company, in the amount of $115,000. We both work in the security industry, so my colleague experienced an odd sense of loss.
“I am employed in this industry. I believed I had followed the proper procedures. I’ve given my family and friends enough warnings to prevent them from suffering the same fate as the con artists. Even though I strive to educate them, just because I work in this field does not mean my circle is always aware of all the risks to them.”
“My mental state has recently been on the verge of humiliation; you know? How could someone in my field have a family member experience something like this?”
I reminded her that despite having knowledge that could have aided them or otherwise prevented an issue altogether, many people working in different fields cannot control what occurs to the members of their families.
“I’m aware, but this really shouldn’t have happened! One of the most intelligent and responsible persons I know, my aunt was duped by this. It’s crazy, and I find it difficult to comprehend.”
I was informed the beginnings by my coworker, let’s call her Barbara (not her real name because she’s a little embarrassed to know what happened to a family member).
Her tale develops, painting a portrait that is a pastiche of millions of Americans and Europeans living in the present. Her aunt is retired, uninspired, secluded, and bored. She lacks anything to keep her busy and feels lost; she was looking for friendship, connections, and someone (anyone) to talk to. The pandemic heightened her emotions. She changed into the ideal victim for con artists using the so-called “Pig Butchering Scam.”
Given how cruel this swindle may be, the word “Pig Butchering” has a visceral, unvarnished sense to it. The victim is encouraged to make tiny investments through the con artist, which over time grow in size thanks to the scammer’s friendship with the victim. Early on, the con artist gains trust by offering what seem to be modest financial gains. Everything is fake. Even when the con artist presents the victim fake financial statements and dashboards to display the false returns, the money immediately disappears into the con artist’s pocket. Conviction increases. The con artist extracts even more money from the victim. and then vanishes.
It was a focused attack that seemed innocent enough to begin with a “fake incorrect number.” An SMS arrives. A text message exchange begins. The con artist then apologizes but claims someone gave them the number to send the text to Leslie.
The con artist then employs psychological and emotional tricks to keep Leslie captivated. “How are you, and how is your day treating you? Leslie participates voluntarily because he is interested and bored.
The conversation starts over the phone after the con artist requests a phone call rather than text. The con artist continues by describing what they are doing to assist people like Leslie in investing their “hard-earned money” in a way that will increase its value and support them in retirement in extremely comforting detail.
Of course, it is too good to be true.
“The most bizarre aspect of all is that my aunt continues to deny that she was defrauded!”
Even though her entire family is outraged over this and begs her aunt to “open her eyes,” she still believes that this con artist is a “friend.”
“It’s absurd that my aunt still believes she will receive that money or perhaps make any money. The con artists are masters of emotional intelligence; they genuinely play on people’s sentiments and psychological tendencies, especially the lonely in society. Only after the entire family threatened to cut her off from the rest of the family did my aunt agree to stop transferring further money to the con artists. It took a lot to persuade her to stop believing the con artists.”
Meredith thinks this is especially tragic because they would never have thought the aunt in issue would be in this situation. She was consistently the person of integrity, diligence, and hard work, as well as the best with money. She is intelligent and shrewd, and we could never have imagined that these people would be able to steal her so simply. It is mind-boggling.
For the past few years, she has begun to change. The pandemic also brought about an odd circumstance. She was in the perfect situation to open herself up to someone voluntarily, just for the sake of connection, thanks to retirement, loneliness from the loss of a companion, and the extra stress of the epidemic.
“Nobody deserves this, My family has been completely shaken by it. Family ties have been strained, so it’s not just about the money. More than she believes her own family, she believes these random strangers and con artists. Have we neglected to take care of our aunt? Does she no longer have faith in her friends and family and prefers to send money to total strangers instead?”
There is no supernatural protection that comes with working in security. We strive to do all in our power to keep our family aware of scams out there in the big, wide world since we are more aware of scams and fraudsters, how they operate, and what to look for. Yet, we are human. We come up short.
Action is diligence. Action is awareness. Education is action.
All of us need to get better at socializing risky things. We must constantly inform our family and friends on how to protect themselves, not only through security software (which everyone should have by default), but also by giving advice on how to stay safe online and alerting them to potential dangers. This is not an isolated incident. The adage “If you see something, say something” is accurate. It helps to practice.
To keep people secure in today’s society, it is essential to defend their security, identification, and privacy. Long ago, scammers gave up on targeting just your computer. Focusing on YOU—your identity, your privacy, and your trust—right now is more important than ever. Once they have you there, they will quickly have your money.
The causes of scammers’ success with their victims, such as boredom, loneliness, and isolation, can all be remedied. Establish connections with your family members, especially those who are perceived as vulnerable or at risk. Make contact. Make an effort to connect even if it could be challenging occasionally due to distance and other circumstances. These con artists are successful for a reason. They are assuming the roles of companions to those who are seeking connection at all costs.
Most people experience intense sadness when they witness another person being “taken.” Let’s cooperate to put an end to the con artists.
Take care of one another, and secure the safety of your populace!
Author’s Final Remarks:
The sites listed below can be useful if you or someone you know is concerned about elder fraud:
ActionFraud is a service provided by the National Fraud and Cybercrime Reporting Centre in the UK.
Melmac Solutions Limited, a privately held investigative company.