Elderly People in Connecticut Face Financial Losses Due to Online Scams and Fraud

 Posted on March 14,2024 in Fraud

Blog ImageWhile the internet has brought many benefits to people’s lives, it has also exposed people to risks. Due to the vast amount of information that is collected and made available online, scammers who are looking to exploit people have more tools at their disposal than ever. In recent years, online scams have become more and more common, and in many cases, elderly people are the targets. The FBI and organizations such as AARP have warned people about these scams, and law enforcement officials are doing what they can to protect people and take legal action against scammers.

Due to this increased level of scrutiny, people who engage in online transactions or are involved in transfers of money or assets may be accused of white collar crimes, internet crimes, fraud, or other offenses. In these situations, representation from a skilled criminal defense attorney is crucial. A lawyer with an understanding of the applicable state and federal laws can help determine the best ways to address these charges and defend against a conviction.

“Phantom Hacker” Scams and Other Forms of Fraud

The FBI has reported that between 2018 and 2022, it received around 3.25 million complaints from elderly people who had experienced financial losses due to scams. In 2022 alone, more than $10 billion was lost by elderly people due to these types of scams.

While online scams can take many forms, one increasingly common method that scammers may use is known as the “phantom hacker” scam. In these cases, a scammer will contact a person claiming that their computer, their online accounts, or their bank accounts have been hacked. They may have personal information about a person that they obtained online, making them seem very convincing. They may then transfer the person to someone who supposedly works for a bank or the government who will state that the person needs to transfer money into another account or exchange it for cryptocurrency in order to protect it. However, these transfers will be fraudulent, and the person will actually be transferring money directly to the scammers.

The phantom hacker scam is just one example of the methods that may be used to convince a person to transfer money to scammers. In other cases, scammers may claim that they are offering investments in cryptocurrency or other assets, and they may create fake websites showing that small amounts of money have grown significantly in order to convince a person to transfer more money to them.

The FBI, technology companies, and others have warned people that anyone who contacts them directly is likely to be a scammer. Shopping websites and companies such as Microsoft usually will not reach out to people to inform them that they have been hacked or that they need to take action to protect their assets. Government agencies such as the IRS or the FBI will never ask for direct payments such as wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or gift cards. Before making any large transfers, people should discuss these issues with their family members or other people they trust, and they may also be warned by personnel at banks or financial institutions that these types of transactions may be fraudulent.

Federal Charges for Online Scams

People who are accused of engaging in scams through phone calls, text messages, email, or social media may potentially face federal charges for fraud. Wire fraud is one of the most common offenses that may apply in these situations, and it involves using electronic communications to obtain money or property through false representations or promises. Federal wire fraud charges will usually apply when scams are conducted over the internet, since they will involve information transmitted through networks located in multiple states or countries.

Federal wire fraud charges carry serious penalties. A conviction for this offense may lead to a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, as well as up to $250,000 in fines. If an offense involves a financial institution, such as a wire transfer from a bank, the maximum prison sentence is 30 years, and the maximum fine is $1 million.

Contact Our Connecticut Fraud Defense Lawyer

At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we provide representation in state and federal criminal cases, including those involving charges of wire fraud or other forms of fraud. Our Hartford federal crimes defense attorney can provide guidance on the best ways to address accusations of fraud, and we can ensure that a defendant’s rights will be protected during their case. To get the legal help you need to address these accusations and defend against a conviction, contact us at 860-290-8690 and schedule a free consultation.

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