WASHINGTON — Life handed us a lemon with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been causing fear and worry over the past year and a half and it looks like it will continue to cause angst as we approach the two year mark. The masking mandates, self-isolation and safe distancing have caused discomfort and anguish whoever you are, wherever you live. But for the elderly it has also increased their risk of being conned out of their money by scammers and fraudsters, adding insult to injury, says Gerry Hafer, Executive Director of the AMAC Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens. The foundation’s focus is on the needs of America’s senior citizens.

According to RBC Wealth Management-U.S. there’s been a 40% increase in cons targeting senior citizens so far in 2021. RBC’s scam assessment shows that in 2020 there was a 54% rise in elder fraud. Senior manager of client risk prevention at the company, Tara Ambrose, says “fraudsters are taking advantage of people’s isolation and they’re getting more sophisticated. We categorize a scam as an incident where a client has been duped or coerced by a fraudster to participate in a scheme. Scammers usually trick victims by building an emotional connection so the victim trusts them, or by using pressure tactics and threatening consequences.”

Hafer has announced that the AMAC Foundation, in concert with AMAC, Inc. and its advocacy subsidiary, AMAC Action, have joined forces to embark on an Elder Fraud Initiative focused on creating awareness of the “insidiously menacing” rise in scams targeting senior citizens.

“Each of AMAC’s three subsidiaries is already engaged at some level in promoting elder fraud Awareness and now we will be adding materials available from the Travelers Insurance Company. It will allow us to augment what we are already doing and help us to develop a more instructional approach to assisting seniors in protecting themselves. Our aim is to provide a guide for online protection, a sort of how-to protocol for defending against fraud.”

Hafer notes that the AMAC Foundation has long been gathering information and recommendations as regards elder fraud. He said “our website blog page already presents a variety of News & Info posts associated with elder fraud and will soon provide a comprehensive guide for online protection that our tech folks are in the process of preparing.

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