(WXYZ) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is issuing a warning about common scams that are targeting seniors in the area.

According to the AG’s office, 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse, neglect or economic exploitation.

Lorrie Abell Patch of Clinton Township almost fell for the Grandparent Scam.

I answered the phone, and this little voice on the other end says, ‘Grandma.’ And I couldn’t quite tell that it was Jacob, you know,” Patch said.

Jacob is her grandson who is at college out of state.

“I said, ‘Hi, Jacob, how you doing?’ He says, ‘Oh, Grandma, not good.’ And I said, ‘Jacob, what’s the matter?’ He says, ‘Grandma, I’m in trouble. I need money,'” she told us. “And at that point, my mind went, why isn’t he calling his dad? You know. So, then I thought for a second, and I said, ‘Jacob, tell me your middle name,’ and then — click– hung up.”

The grandparent scam is one of the most popular scams targeting Michigan seniors, according to Nessel. She said that scam is often coupled with the Caller ID Spoofing Scam, where bad actors deliberately falsify the information sent to your caller ID to pose as a legitimate business or a trusted source.

”They will make it look like it’s really coming from a local, you know, lock up or a jail that’s down in Florida, or they’ll make it look like it’s coming from an emergency room,” Nessel said. “And so if you look to verify that number, it is the number of those particular facilities.”

If someone is urgently asking for money, being paid in an unusual way, banking information, or your social security number, hang up. Look up the number yourself, and call to see what’s real and what’s fake.

Also, if you get a smishing text from a trusted source with a link, don’t click the link! That’s the Fake Technology Scam.

“It’ll say it’s from Apple or Microsoft, and they’ll say, there’s something wrong with your device, and you have to click on this link in order to download some sort of software that, you know, would help ward off any sort of cyberattack. But really what you’re doing is you’re downloading malware,” Nessel said.

That malware allows the scammer to get into your device, access critical passwords, even snag your banking information.

“My mother fell for that scam,” Nessel said. “[It] didn’t seem to, you know, impact her decision that her daughter’s the Attorney General and said definitely do not click on that link. But it was too late by the time I got to her.”

“How disturbing is it to you to know that senior citizens are often the target of these scams?” I asked Lorrie Abell Patch.
Oh, it just infuriates me,” Patch replied.

The AG’s Elder Abuse Task Force helped move some legislation called FIPA – the Financial Exploitation Prevention Act. It now requires credit unions and banks to train their staff on how to spot suspicious transactions on a seniors’ account.

The AG’s office also has a program called MITSS – The Michigan Identity Theft Support System. If you’ve been a victim, make a report online and you’ll be assigned a caseworker who can help you rebuild your credit, and hopefully locate the perpetrator.

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