Fighting Elder Fraud – Part Two

David Anderson is principal of David Anderson & Associates, a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of fraud investigation, forensic accounting, and marital dissolution services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. 

In last week’s blog, forensic accounting expert David Anderson of David Anderson & Associates, Certified Fraud Examiner in Philadelphia, discussed the top three frauds perpetrated against the elderly (as reported by the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging), and offered tips for helping seniors to avoid such frauds.  This week, he will discuss the next three most frequent frauds perpetrated against the elderly and next week he will address the remaining four most frequent frauds targeting seniors.

The fourth-most-frequent fraud perpetrated against seniors is known as either the “Are You There?” Or “Can You Hear Me?” Fraud.  This relatively new fraud involves the caller asking the answerer either of those two questions in order to get the answerer to say “Yes.” Another variation involves the caller asking for “Bob” or “Cindy”, and upon being told that the such a person is not at this number asks for the answerer’s name. The caller than says, “Did you say that this is (name of answerer)?”, hoping to elicit the “Yes”.

By answering “Yes”, the senior now has provided the caller with a voice print.  Scammers then use the voice print for making unwanted charges to utility bills, phone bills and/or credit cards.  Another variation of this fraud is used to ascertain that a live person is answering the phone, and upon the person saying “Yes”, he/she is transferred to a live telemarketer or scammer.

To help seniors avoid this type of fraud, they should be advised to get caller ID, and not answer any calls from numbers they don’t know.  As with Anderson’s recommendations regarding robocalls, they should also consider getting a robocall blocking service such as Nomorobo or Robokiller.

The fifth-most-frequent fraud perpetrated against the elderly is known as the Grandparent Scam.  The caller pretends to be a family member, usually a grandchild, who has an urgent need for money to cover an emergency, medical care or a legal problem.  The scammer may speak in a quieter voice (or speak away from the receiver) in order to make it hard for the victim to be sure of the caller’s voice.

In a variation of this scam, the caller claims to be a police officer or lawyer calling to tell the grandparent that their grandchild has been arrested and needs money to immediately post bail or else be held overnight in jail. In another variation, the “grandchild” states that he/she has been arrested for drug possession and asks the grandparent to not tell his/her parents.  As with the IRS Impersonation scam, the caller relies upon the fear of the call recipient that something has to be done immediately.

Also, as with the IRS Impersonation scam, the grandparent is told to immediately purchase some type of prepaid card – either a prepaid VISA/Mastercard or gift card.  After purchasing the prepaid card, the senior is told to immediately call back and provide the card’s information to the caller.

To help avoid this type of elder fraud, the senior should be advised to take down the information and phone number provided, and then immediately call a knowledgeable family member to ascertain if this is actually the case.  Seniors should also be advised to never give out credit card information over the phone.

The sixth-most-frequent fraud perpetrated against seniors is the Computer Tech Support Fraud.  Although this scam most frequently occurs online (a warning pops up when the user is on particular websites, informs the user that their computer has become infected with a virus, and advises them to either click on a link to fix their computer or to call a number for help), it also occurs via phone (a call informing you that the scammer is from Microsoft or Apple and that your computer or other device has been compromised).

The scammer asks the victim for permission to take control of his/her computer and informs the victim that they will fix the problem for a fee.  Depending upon the type of scam, one of three things happens here.

  • Under Scam Type One, the scammer charges an exorbitant fee and after a few minutes proclaims that the problem has been fixed.
  • Under Scam Type Two, the scammer does the same thing as under Scam Type One, but also searches the victim’s computer for personal financial information which can be used to: steal funds; make fraudulent charges to credit cards; or open new credit cards in the victim’s name.
  • Under Scam Type Three, the scammer claims the victim’s computer has been hijacked by a third party and informs the victim that the only way to get control of the computer back is to pay a “ransom” to this third party.

If the scammer successfully obtains payments from the victim, the scammer may call back at a later date and inform the victim that he/she was accidentally overcharged and is eligible for a refund, but the refund can only be paid via direct wire to the victim’s bank account.  If the scammer can get access to the victim’s bank account, he/she can then drain the account. As with the IRS Impersonation and Grandparent scams, the Computer Tech Support fraud relies upon the elderly person’s fear that immediate action must be taken.

As with other frauds, the senior needs to be educated about this kind of fraud.  He/she should be told that Microsoft, Apple, and other tech companies will not call them about computer problems.  Furthermore, he/she should be advised that if a warning pops up on his/her computer, the senior should immediately call an informed family member or friend, or at least shut down his/her computer until such a person can be consulted.

Assistance in this area also is available from a Certified Fraud Examiner working with an experienced firm that provides forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. The Philadelphia forensic accounting firm of David Anderson & Associates can be reached by calling David Anderson at 267-207-3597 or emailing him at

About David Anderson & Associates

David Anderson & Associates is a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.  The experienced professionals at David Anderson & Associates provide forensic accounting, business valuation, fraud investigation, fraud deterrence, litigation support, economic damage analysis, business consulting and outsourced CFO services.  Company principal David Anderson is a forensic accounting expert who has more than 30 years of experience in financial and operational leadership positions and is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner and a Certified Valuation Analyst.