Fraud and cybercrime are forms of financial exploitation. They involve people being pressured or deceived into handing over money and possessions. People may be tricked into downloading computer viruses and malware, or they may be blackmailed, develop large debts to another person or company (including loan sharks) or have money and possessions stolen.
What is Cyber Crime?
Locally, cyber crime is viewed as any crime committed, in full or in part, via a computer, network, or another computer enabled device.
People can be exploited online, through emails, the telephone, the post, or in person. They may be exploited by companies and strangers such as online and telephone scammers or doorstep callers. These people may befriend the person and groom them into handing over money and possessions. Family members, friends and carers may also try to exploit someone. This commonly known as mate crime.
Illegal money lending is a form of financial exploitation. Illegal money lenders are sometimes known as loan sharks. Loan sharks lend money illegally, often at a very high interest rate with little paperwork. They use violence and other illegal action to collect the money they’ve lent. You can find out more about loan sharks and get advice and support from Stop Loan Sharks.
Anyone can be financially exploited, but older people are disproportionately affected. Scams are a particularly common form of exploitation, but forced debt is also a growing problem, and is linked to other forms exploitation such as modern slavery and drug trafficking.
Signs that someone is being financially exploited could include:
- Changes in the amount of money the person has available, including unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, evidence of unpaid bills or an inability to afford items
- Developing high levels of debt
- Control of finances moving from the person to another adult – this could be through a formal agreement or through someone taking control of someone’s spending choices
- Changes to financial documents such as changes to a will, adding names to a bank account, or signatures that don’t look like the person’s
- Receiving lots of mail, emails or telephone calls
- Appearing stressed, anxious, or deterioration in health and wellbeing
- Having a new friend, who the person may have met in person, on the telephone or online.