March 27, 2024

By now, many of us are so familiar with the “Prince of Nigeria” email scam that it is shorthand for a seemingly obvious grift. But enough people are tricked by these ploys to make them a serious threat to people’s financial and emotional health.

People with disabilities have been frequently targeted by scammers. But one of the side effects of the coronavirus has been a dramatic uptick in dangerous scams against people with disabilities, older adults and the population in general.

Over the past two years, Community Connections has encountered numerous incidents of people with disabilities being exploited right here in Southwest Colorado. Historically, scamming has tended to increase around the holidays, so I thought I would share some of the tactics we’ve seen used by professional scammers recently.

A common plot we’ve seen is a con artist developing an online relationship (usually over social media) with the target and eventually asking for money, often in the form of gift cards. In one iteration of this scam, the scammer poses as a member of the military stationed overseas and looking for a romantic connection. Others offer to help with applying for benefits or assisting with claims.

Professional scammers involved in these plots are willing to invest large amounts of time gaining the trust of their target and even research them online to gain personal insights…

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