AGING SERVICES: Fraud & Scams - Information & Tips to Protect Yourself

Fraud & Scams - Information & Tips to Protect Yourself

The more you know, the more you will be better able to protect yourself from scams, fraud and abuse.  The following information is intended to help you do just that.  If you have tips or information on how to protect yourself from scams, fraud or abuse and would like to include them on this website please e-mail them to Dee White at
Did You Know?
Fighting Mail Fraud
The United States Postal Inspection Service Fights Fraud Against the Elderly: The U.S.Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is committed to protecting seniors from telemarketing and mail fraud scheme.  The agency has several resources designed to educate and inform consumers about mail fraud, including fraud against older Americans.  visit to access these materials.  USPIS has also introduced a new website that provides information about the ways consumers can avoid falling victim to scams involving counterfeit checks, visit for more information.

Highlighting Recent FBI "Ponzi" Scheme Investigations - as Reported by FBI National Press Office - April 1, 2009
      Given current market conditions, there has been no shortage of Ponzi investment schemes, perpetrators, and victims. These schemes are varied in their methods, but usually lure investors with the false promise of high financial returns or dividends not available through traditional investments.
      This type of fraud is named after Charles Ponzi, who operated an enticing scheme in the early twentieth century that guaranteed investors a 50 percent return on their investment in postal coupons. Instead of investing the money he received, Ponzi simply used it to pay “dividends” to initial investors and pocketed the rest himself. The scheme fell apart when investors grew suspicious and funds dried up, making it impossible to make additional payouts and keep the ruse going.
      “Too often investors are blinded by dreams of untold wealth,” said Assistant Director Kenneth W. Kaiser of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “These schemes highlight the need for law enforcement and regulatory agencies to be ever vigilant of white-collar crime both in boom and bust years. We also want to remind the public to exercise due diligence in selecting investments and the people with whom you entrust your money.”
      “The bottom line is that individuals must approach investment opportunities with a dose of healthy skepticism,” said Supervisory Special Agent Stephen Kodak of the FBI’s National Press Office. “People are often to willing to suspend their disbelief if they think they will receive a fantastic payout. Just remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contributions Schemes - Prepared by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) - July 8, 2008.
"Since late May and early June 2008, there have been several natural disasters throughout the country - including tornadoes, wildfires, and floods - which have devastated lives and property.  In the wake of these events which have caused emotional distress and great monetary loss to numerous victims, individuals across the nation often feel a desire to help these victims, frequently through monetary donations.
Tragic incidents, such as 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the recent earthquakes in China, have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purpotedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause.  Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consmers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses.  Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organiation by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
To obtain more information on charitiable contribution schemes and other types of online schemes, visit  If you are a victim of an online scheme, please notify the Ic3 by filing a complaint at"

Content Last Modified on 4/6/2009 8:54:29 AM