KANSAS CITY, Mo.— Every year Americans over the age of 60 fall victim to nearly $3 billion dollars in scams, according to a recent government study.
“This is a growing trend that we`re seeing, and the elderly are very vulnerable, and they are a target for these different types of scams,” said Bridget Patton with the Kansas City FBI office.
During an information session held Monday night, law enforcement members offered tips, resources, and answers to those who have already fallen prey, and those trying to avoid becoming a statistic.
Georgianna Williams traveled from Kansas to attend the meeting in South Kansas City.
“When I came here, I learned there are places I could have come first. I should have gone to the federal government or Shawnee Mission police,” she said.
According to the FBI, Americans over the age of 60 reported nearly $650 million in online scams in 2018.
Patton said the romance scam is quickly breaking hearts and leaving its victims broke.
“Last year from February ’18 to March 2019, there was almost $185 million in losses because of romance scams, and that`s just what`s been reported,’ she said.
The scam targets those looking for romance or companionship.
In 2018, federal prosecutors arrested Ronayerin Ogolor of Kansas City. Investigators said he targeted lonely elderly victims on dating websites like Facebook and ChristianMingle.com, who were in search of romance — to the tune of nearly $900,000.
On Monday, prosecutors said Ogolor is expected to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud during a court appearance this week.
“Many times the victims don`t want to tell their family. They don’t want to tell people because they`re embarrassed or ashamed,” Patton said.
Kansas City police say many of their cases involve older scams, involving credit cards, phone calls and businesses.
“It’s the most important thing for anyone over the age of 45 because people are always trying to get your money,” Williams said.