Scammers targeting elderly

18:23, Dec 17 2013

A Marlborough person in their 70s has lost almost $50,000 in an online scam.

Age Concern Marlborough support worker Wendy Lefebre said more and more elderly people in Marlborough were being targeted in internet and postal scams.

Many were falling into the trap of sending money for sweepstakes, where people sent a small amount of money for a chance to win a large payout.

Once the scammers had that information, they sold it on to other scammers who then targeted that person as well, Ms Lefebre said.

Another Marlborough person in their mid-70s lost thousands of dollars over three months after entering hundreds of sweepstakes competitions.

The person was sent up to 14 letters a day offering millions in prize money for a small fee.


Age Concern workers feared for those who did not report the scams, Ms Lefebre said. "We think there's a lot more going on than we hear about."

"People who have been scammed are so humiliated by the whole process that they're too embarrassed to come forward."

Those who were scammed were more than likely to have something else in their lives that affected the way they thought, such as depression, losing a partner, or being isolated, she said.

"Something like that numbs your senses and you don't pick up on the fact you're being scammed," she said.

She urged anyone who had been tricked out of money to get in touch.

Age Concern Marlborough offered support and could help involve other agencies if the client wished. The service was entirely confidential, she said.

She encouraged family members and caregivers to keep an eye on the elderly for signs of change, including a lot of mail in the house or a sudden need for money.

Many people who had fallen for a scam soon became overwhelmed by the amount of mail they received, Ms Lefebre said. She warned people that the majority of sweepstakes were not real.

"All you're doing is giving money to crime," she said.

"When people realise that, that's when it knocks them."

Blenheim community constable Russ Smith said if something looked too good to be true, then it probably was.

To report a scam or a suspected scam, email the Department of Internal Affairs on 

The Marlborough Express