NEW YORK - Authorities are reporting a disturbing new trend, as more and more financial scams are targeting seniors across New York City and the nation.
For 89-year-old Janet Gonzales-Gasper, it started with a seemingly pleasant phone conversation.
"She was very nice, and it just went very nicely," Gonzales-Gasper said.
The woman, claiming to be from Amazon, was a criminal, targeting a senior citizen in order to steal from them.
"She said, well, there are three charges," Gonzales-Gasper recalled. "I told her my birthday. I gave her the credit card that I use."
Financial scams saw a major increase during the pandemic.
"Because people were home, in particular, that the scams rose during that time, but it hasn't slackened off since then," said Kateri Jasper, Janet's daughter and a former member of the Queens District Attorney's Office.
Not only are the number of scams targeting seniors increasing, but so are assaults:
- On August 1, a 73-year-old was robbed in Queens
- On August 2, a 69-year-old was robbed and assaulted in the Bronx
- On August 7, a 69-year-old was assaulted in the Bronx
- On August 8, a 75-year-old was beaten in an elevator in the Bronx.
- On September 10, an 88-year-old was assaulted in Chelsea
- On September 12, a 74-year-old was shoved onto the subway tracks in an unprovoked attack on the Upper East Side.
This year, the NYPD has reported a significant increase in felony assaults on the elderly compared to the same period last year.
Grand Larcenies, which encompass financial scams, have escalated to over 3,700 cases, up from approximately 3,500 last year.
Tragically, some seniors are losing their entire life savings.
According to Mark Sicari of the nonprofit Jewish Association Serving the Aging, $3.1B was lost last year alone.
Exacerbating the problem, many senior citizens who get scammed are embarrassed to report it to the police.
"Close to half of the time a scam takes place, it goes unreported," Sicari said.