Cyber scammers target over 65s in Spain

One in Five crimes in Spain is committed online Credit: Pixabay: Vickygharat

In today’s digital age, not everyone has good intentions when using technology and seniors in Spain are particularly vulnerable to scammers.

It is not surprising given that people within this demographic did not grow up with technology and are, therefore, likely to be less educated on the tricks used by scammers.  Add to this the fact that they are typically more trusting, both in people and the information they receive, and it is clear to see why they are considered easy targets.

Recent statistics from a survey by the Mossos d’Esquadra show that one in three people over 65 has been a victim of at least one cybercrime in Spain. Even more shocking, one out of every five crimes in Spain is committed online. With the rapid evolution of Artificial Intelligence and the resulting digital divide, it is more crucial than ever for this vulnerable group to be cyber-aware and take necessary precautions.

How does cybercrime work?

One key thing to understand is that scammers work by gaining the trust of their victims. They can do this in several ways, including pretending to work for a well-known company or even a bank. They will ‘turn on the charm’ in an effort to build a bond and lull their victim into a false sense of security. This is all to gain access to personal data, passwords, and banking information.

The distress of a cyberscam goes beyond financial loss, though. It can leave the victim feeling foolish, ashamed, and isolated, often leading them to keep the incident a secret for fear of being judged. This is backed up by two-thirds of those surveyed admitting they needed to seek support from mental health professionals after their experience.

Forewarned is forearmed, and statistics show that people over 65 are typically targeted in six different ways, all of which are designed to take advantage of their willingness to trust technology.

What are examples of cybercrime?

Phishing is one of the most common forms of cybercrime. It involves sending a large volume of emails, often posing as a reputable company, in the hope that some recipients will click on a link that unwittingly takes them to a fraudulent website.

The ‘Nigerian Scam’ makes the victim believe that they are about to receive a large sum of money, and to do so, they need to advance a payment to cover fees and management expenses. This type of scam could be via email, WhatsApp, or other social networks. A similar take on the same scam uses a raffle prize as the hook.

Identity theft is also very common. It involves the malicious use of another person’s data to create a fake identity and act on their behalf. This particular scam is very prevalent on social networks, such as Facebook.

Romantic scams take advantage of social media. Potential victims are tricked into thinking that they are having a long-distance relationship with someone they met online who needs money to meet them in person.

The ‘Virtual Kidnapping Scam’  has become quite commonplace of late. It involves the potential victim receiving a distressing message from a family member stating that they are in some kind of trouble and need money urgently. More often than not, this is carried out via WhatsApp, and some excuse is given as to why the message has come from an unknown number.

Finally, there is the unimaginative but equally effective deceptive loan when an individual claims they can offer loans at extremely low interest rates.  Similar to the Nigerian Scam, obtaining the loan requires an initial transfer for associated administrative expenses.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

Donna Williams

Marketer, copywriter, storyteller and President of Samaritans in Spain. They say variety is the spice of life and I am definitely loving life!


    • Tony

      29 June 2024 • 08:21

      I had a text message supposedly from DGT yesterday that I had a fine. It contained a very strange website. Needless to say I have ignored it. The police send out fines in the post not to a phone number, and where would they get my number from? Also I was driving from Burgos to Santurzi to get the ferry, and only passed one camera at the required speed. I won’t open the web page but it would be interesting to know the details as most of the day we were not driving. Either having lunch or queuing at the docks. So another one to look out for.

    • eddie

      29 June 2024 • 17:23

      I keep getting calls from a Spanish number starting 621 40 at an annoying rate, they have my name and a previous address, the information could only have come from one of my previous utility suppliers.
      I sometimes play the dumb only English spoken, other times very poor Spanglish on the basis that the longer I keep them on the phone the fewer people they can bother, as they are presumably paying i hope they eventually blank my number at their source.

    • D Bath

      29 June 2024 • 18:16

      “ It is not surprising given that people within this demographic did not grow up with technology and are, therefore, likely to be less educated on the tricks used by scammers.”. Seriously?? I’m 68 and I literally grew up with high technology. It helps that I don’t trust anyone, especially the media.

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