Vulnerable elderly targeted by online ‘pandemic fraudsters’

Older people in Thames Valley lost over £100,000 in one year at the hands of cybercriminals according to data acquired by the charity Age UK.

But as it is estimated that only three per cent of cybercrime is reported to authorities, the actual figures are likely to be much higher.

The problem has only got worse during lockdown with a growth in COVID-19 related fraud.

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More and more older people have been going online to work, shop and keep in touch with friends and family- but often without the proper support and guidance that they may want and need.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Online crime is often highly sophisticated and tough to spot so anyone can be taken in, but if you are new to the internet and learned to use it in a rush with little support, you are potentially more vulnerable to being caught out.

“Fraud and cybercrime can have catastrophic and life changing effects, not just financially but on older people’s health and wellbeing. It can also have a massive impact on their confidence and can lead them to stopping going online altogether.”

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The majority of the fraud linked to coronavirus involves online purchases for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, that never arrive. Criminals have also been sending phishing emails and texts claiming to be from the Government, HMRC, BBC TV licencing and health bodies to convince the recipient to open links or attachments and get them to reveal personal or financial information.

Older people and their families can find advice and tips on staying safe online by calling Age UK’s free national Advice Line on 0800 169 65 65 (365 days a year from 8am–7pm) or on Age UK’s website at www.ageuk.org.uk/scams. Here they can also find links to copies of Age UK’s free, downloadable guides Avoiding scams and Staying safe.

Royal Borough Observer | News WIndsor