Originally in Greensboro News & Record

October 2, 2019

Your grandson is in jail and needs bail money.

Congratulations, you’ve won our sweepstakes. But before you can claim your prize, we’ll need some information about your bank account.

A hacker has taken over your computer. To unlock it, you need to send $500 to this address.

These are just some of the scams that have targeted senior citizens in North Carolina.

On Wednesday, seniors shared those stories and voiced their concerns to N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein during a tele-town hall at the DoubleTree Hotel.

Stein was joined by Scott Sluder, a Winston-Salem police detective, and Liz Buser, a Fraud Watch program manager for AARP.

“My office receives tens of thousands of complaints about scams every year, and a large percentage of them involve seniors,” Stein said.

For an hour, Stein, Buser and Sluder addressed a number of schemes that affect seniors, ranging from contractors inflating their prices after storms to fake calls from the IRS.

Why seniors? Stein said they’re the preferred target of scammers because they generally tend to be more responsive and trusting.

“Always know what you’re getting into before signing on the dotted line,” Stein said.

Stein said most fraud schemes still take place over the phone. But social media is becoming more prevalent as a tool.

“The scammers will use information that they get about someone through the Internet ... and then call them to develop a relationship and scam them,” Stein explained.

He added that the emotions of those victimized also play a part — like feelings of fear for a loved one or excitement over winning something — because they tend to have a disarming effect, making a person more susceptible to deception.

“Folks need to protect themselves,” Stein said. “It doesn’t matter where you are in this world — if you’re walking down the street, if you’re at your home, if you’re on the phone, if you’re using your computer — just know that there are bad guys out there that are trying to steal your money."