11 Financial Scams Senior Citizens Need To Be Aware Of

Contact about winnings from a sweepstakes or some other kind of competition is another favorite among scammers. This is essentially a take on the classic Nigerian prince’ approach, which itself is a variation of an even older con — the “Spanish Prisoner” mail scam. The gist is that the victim has won a grand prize, perhaps a large sum of money, a trip, or a car or home. But in order to take possession of the winnings, the victim will have to pay service fees, taxes, or some other kind of settlement. Of course, those who are taken by the fraud never see this imaginary payday and the swindler disappears into the wind. A Louisiana man was arrested in 2017 and charged with 269 counts of wire fraud relating to these kinds of ploys, illuminating just how prevalent—and lucrative—this approach is for criminals.


The stories weaved by criminals engaged in these scams can be intricate, but they all share that important commonality. The scammer is looking for their victim to cough up bank details or a cash payment before providing the promised winnings. With this in mind, it’s a little easier to see through the bravado of even the most compelling pitch.