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Older people are targets as scammers go after people based off profile pictures

Posted at 7:55 AM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 07:55:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Athena Salisbury shared what she learned when she asked a would-be scammer a simple question: Why me? The answer provides some insight into how thieves looking to steal money or information pick victims.

WRTV asked Salisbury how many messages she gets a week from strangers.

"I'd say probably at least five, at least five a week," Salisbury said. "A lot of times I ignore them and block them and don't even look at them."

Conversation with a scammer

Salisbury said most messages start with a compliment and then, an offer to be a sugar daddy on the condition that she sends a certain amount of money for verification purposes.

Obviously a scam, she typically blocks the person messaging her. However, after asking one of them why she was being targeted, she found out it had to do her with her Facebook profile picture.

"He said basically because it was an older person and older people are normally easier to con or get over on," Salisbury said.

Salisbury has a picture of her grandmother, who died last year as her profile picture to honor the woman who raised her.

Athena and her grandmother
Athena Salisbury and her grandmother.

"It made me extremely angry and made me sad, too, because there are a lot of people falling for this, giving away their life savings, liquidating their retirements," Salisbury said.

The Better Business Bureau suggests people report scams like this to them through their scam tracker. On the tracker, you can see all the reported scams for where you live.

RELATED | BBB Scam Tracker

The Federal Trade Commission says younger people are scammed more often, but when older people are scammed, they're typically scammed out of more money, three times the amount for those 80 and over.

RELATED | FTC Age and Fraud Loss Infographic

Salisbury doesn't want anyone to lose their retirement savings or what little income they might have.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," she said. "Definitely guard your money and your heart."

Since her grandma's picture is why these scammers contacted her, WRTV asked what she thinks her grandmother would have done in this situation.

"She was very aware of things because she would get those phone calls about having a warrant or having some money due. She'd be like, 'honey, I hung up on those people because they don't even sound right,'" Salisbury said. "She would try to warn people like I'm doing now."

WRTV Investigates has been keeping track of the most common scams happening. That list is below.

  • Government Imposter Scams
  • Employment Scams
  • Phishing Scams
  • Tech Support Scams
  • Utility Scams

In all of these scams, you're urged to never give over personal information, send money, or engage with the person unless you know for sure to whom you're talking.


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