01 Feb ROMANCE SCAMS and the FRAUD PREVENTION ACT OF 2022
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.
ROMANCE SCAMS and the FRAUD PREVENTION ACT OF 2022
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program
Greetings! It’s February 2023, so let’s get ready to celebrate Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents Day! February may be the shortest month of the year, but it sure is a busy one with three holidays on the horizon. With any luck at all, Punxsutawney Phil won’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day, and we’ll be blessed with an early spring! (We can always hope!) And may we all steer clear of fraudsters who try to steal our money and our hearts via romance scams, especially around Valentine’s Day. Every year, it seems like these predators crawl out of the woodwork with new, creatively vicious ways to steal what doesn’t belong to them. A review of statistics on romance scams over the past few years shows just how damaging the lies of these predators can be.
- In 2018 — People reported losing $143 million to romance scams – a higher total than for any other type of scam reported to the FTC. (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2019/02/romance-scams-will-cost-you).
- The number of romance scams reported over a 5-year period (between 2015 and 2019) nearly tripled; while the amount of money lost to these types of fraudulent schemes was 6 times higher ($33M in 2015 and $201M in 2019). (https://www.forbes.com/sites/juliejason/2020/09/04/senior-romance-thrives-in-the-pandemic-7-ways-to-avoid-catfishing-schemes/?sh=2c71e1572708)
- In August 2022, per the FTC (https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-know-about-romance-scams) – People reported a record $547 million in losses to romance scams in 2021. That’s up about 80% from the reports the FTC got in 2020. In 2021, people reported paying romance scammers more with gift cards than with any other payment method. The 2021 reports also showed that cryptocurrency payments were the most costly.
It’s important to remember that real, live people stand behind these numbers of great financial loss. Real, live people – just like you and me. Real, live people who got emotionally wounded and robbed by sociopaths / criminals, who make their living by lying, cheating, and stealing.
Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words. This pic from the FTC says it all. If you have a new romantic interest with someone you’ve met online, and suddenly, there’s a request for money (to help pay for some alleged emergency, illness, plane ticket, etc.), it’s a SCAM. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts.
PROTECT YOURSELF. Post this pic in a prominent location and REMEMBER….
For more detailed info about romance scams, go to https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-know-about-romance-scams
AND NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS!
THE FRAUD AND SCAM PREVENTION ACT OF 2022
You may not have heard much about it, but it is worth noting that the U.S. Congress passed the Fraud and Scam Prevention Act (FSPA) which was signed into law by President Biden in March of 2022. So, what exactly does the FSPA intend to do? Well, per Susan J. Wells at Kiplinger.com, the FSPA aims to tackle the financial exploitation of seniors [and] promises a new level of prevention and response to this exploitation by recruiting a new army to fight it: the clerks and shopkeepers that seniors interact with as they go about their daily business. The legislation even creates a new task force, the Senior Scam Prevention Advisory Group, with representatives from government agencies, consumer advocates and industry organizations. The group has been given the job of developing a training program, one that teaches retailers, financial institutions and wire-transfer services to recognize scams and stop senior fraud before it happens. (https://www.kiplinger.com/retirement/fighting-senior-fraud-before-it-happens)
On September 29, 2022, the first Scams Against Older Adults Advisory Meeting was held. The purpose of the meeting was to focus on ways to better identify and stop scams that affect older adults [in] four main areas: 1) expanding consumer education efforts; 2) improving industry training on scam prevention; 3) identifying innovative or high-tech methods to detect and stop scams; and 4) developing research on consumer or employee engagement to reduce fraud. (https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/events/2022/09/scams-against-older-adults-advisory-group-meeting) Advisory Group Members are — AARP; AmeriCorps; Chamber of Digital Commerce; Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Federal Reserve Board; Federal Trade Commission; Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; Financial Industry Regulatory Authority; Innovative Payments Association; National Retail Federation; Office of Attorney General for the State of Vermont; Retail Gift Card Association; Securities and Exchange Commission; The Money Services Round Table; U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services — Administration for Community Living; U.S. Dept. of Justice; U.S. Dept. of Treasury; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and USTelecom. (You can watch a video of this meeting here: https://www.ftc.gov/media/scams-against-older-adults-advisory-group-meeting-september-29-2022)
On December 7, 2022, the FTC announced members of Stop Senior Scams Act Advisory Committees aimed at protecting older adults against scams (FTC press release — https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2022/12/ftc-announces-members-stop-senior-scams-act-advisory-committees-aimed-protecting-older-adults)
The Advisory Committees in the four main areas listed above began meeting in early December. (For more detailed info about these committees, see https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/ftc_gov/pdf/sssa-committee-list.pdf)
From the looks of things, it appears that the Stop Senior Scams Act Advisory Committees are ready to roll! They are armed with this knowledge — Prevention is the best medicine to countering fraud. Prevention stops scammers in their tracks – BEFORE a crime is committed. And the FSPA is upping its game in the fight to prevent fraud / scams, by training front-line workers to intervene when something seems fishy. The implementation of FSPA represents a significant increase in our collective awareness about how to prevent fraud. The good news is — Great things can happen when we work together. And the best is yet to come!
Be Empowered. Find Your Voice. Speak Out About Fraud!
WHERE TO REPORT SCAMS
Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.
For questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, contact Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080.
U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.
SSSAP’s SISTER ORGANIZATION — SENIOR RESPONSE CENTER IN CANADA
Pic Caption – A Shout Out to SSSAP’s Sister Organization — Senior Response Center in Canada! From left to right: The Honorable Arlene Dunn, Legislative Assembly Saint John, New Brunswick making presentation to Linda Nickerson, Executive Director of the Senior Response Center in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
SAVE THE DATE!
SSSAP will be performing (free of charge) at the Santa Monica Public Library on Wednesday, March 22, 2-3pm in the Multipurpose Room of the Main Library, located at 600 Santa Monica Blvd. Please call 310-458-8600 for more info. It promises to be an informative and entertaining presentation, including a Q&A with SSSAP Educator, Ann Stahl, Retired Senior Investigator with the Federal Trade Commission. We hope to see you there!
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.