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Top 3 Scams Seniors should be mindful of in 2024

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Guest Post: Alberta Securities Commission

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a time when the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) is encouraging older Albertans and their friends and family to recognize the signs of elder financial abuse and fraud. Investment fraud continues to be the most prevalent form of fraud across Canada with seniors often targeted due to the perception that they have large retirement nest eggs, are thought to be more trusting  and potentially have declining mental faculties. Whether you or an older adult in your life is an experienced investor or have never invested before, be mindful of the following pervasive scams.

Romance and pig butchering scams

Romance scams have skyrocketed in Canada in recent years with many fraudsters taking to social media platforms and dating apps to connect with those seeking friendship or love, including seniors who may be lonely or isolated. With the use of artificial intelligence generated imagery and voices, fraudsters are able to create convincing online personas. Once fraudsters are able to find a potential victim, they work quickly to establish trust by sharing fabricated details about their life and showering the target with attention and affection. Fraudsters commonly move the conversation to apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram to avoid having their accounts being suspended before offering tantalizing investment opportunities or offering to invest on the victim’s behalf. Fraudsters may even incorporate some element of a crypto investment, often referred to as a pig butchering scam, with promises of substantial returns. Regardless of the approach, the end result is the same. When trying to withdraw funds the victim is given excuses, or pressure to send more money or claims the money was lost in the investment. After these tactics, the fraudster stops responding and disappears.

Tip: Be extremely skeptical of any new online acquaintance who takes an immediate interest in your finances and any unrequested investment offers.

Fake crypto investment promotions

Crypto continues to be a popular topic for many older Albertans who have the expectation that buying in could be a silver bullet to their financial struggles. In reality, investing in crypto is high risk and offers no guarantees of returns. Older Albertans should be wary that fraudsters use a variety of different schemes to pull in victims, including claims of being a “crypto advisor” in online forums and social media, directing potential victims to fake trading platforms and advertising exciting and unrealistic returns in online and social media ads. If you are interested in investing in crypto, it is strongly advised that you take the time to learn more about this alternative investment and verify that any individual, trading platform or company you plan to invest with is registered with the Alberta Securities Commission or another securities regulator before sending money. You can call the ASC public inquiries line at 1-877-355-4488 to verify registration or by clicking here.

Tip: Crypto is high risk and not recommended for everyone. Avoid any crypto offers or trading platforms promising guaranteed returns and little to no risk.

Recovery room scams

If you or an older person in your life has lost money to an investment scam, you may be contacted by someone claiming to be from a recovery agency or law enforcement with a promise of helping victims recover their funds for a fee. Fraudsters retarget recent victims using information from the original scam to make the recovery agency look credible. While legitimate recovery agencies do exist, you should discuss any fund recovery options with a lawyer first. Remember, it is rarely possible for recovery agencies to recover your money or crypto.

Tip: Be mindful that neither law enforcement agencies nor the ASC will ever contact you with an unsolicited offer to recover your money or crypto for a fee

This June, take some time to focus on financial security for yourself and your loved ones. In addition to learning more about investment scams targeting seniors, empower yourself to make sound investment decisions regardless of age.

CheckFirst.ca/seniors brought to you by the Alberta Securities Commission is your unbiased resource for investing as you age. Learn more about assessing your investment goals, choosing the right investing method, and recognizing, avoiding and reporting investment fraud and financial abuse.

Concerned about an investment scam?

If you are suspicious about an investment offer you or your loved ones have received or concerned that you may have lost money to an investment scam, do not hesitate to contact the Alberta Securities Commission.

ASC Public Inquiries
403-355-4151
Toll-free: 1-877-355-4488
[email protected] 

David Popowich and Faisal Karmali are Investment Advisors with CIBC Wood Gundy in Calgary. The views of David Popowich and Faisal Karmali do not necessarily reflect those of CIBC World Markets Inc.

This information, including any opinion, is based on various sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed and is subject to change.

CIBC Private Wealth consists of services provided by CIBC and certain of its subsidiaries, including CIBC Wood Gundy, a division of CIBC World Markets Inc. The CIBC logo and “CIBC Private Wealth” are trademarks of CIBC, used under license. “Wood Gundy” is a registered trademark of CIBC World Markets Inc.

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