Anyone, at any age, can fall victim to a scam. However, con artists most often set their sights on older adults and those scams targeting seniors are the subject of a new exhibit entitled “Scamalot: Conquering the Con” opening at Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge.
Seniors in the U.S. are swindled out of an estimated $37 billion per year, according to a report by True Link Financial, mainly through financial exploitation, criminal fraud and caregiver abuse. In an effort to call attention to fraud that particularly targets older adults, Alcatraz East Crime Museum has collaborated with AARP Foundation on a temporary exhibit to help seniors recognize, refuse and report scams.
“We all want to protect our aging parents and loved ones,” said Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer for Alcatraz East. “The more people understand how victims are targeted, the more we can do to protect ourselves from these crimes.”
Created by AARP Foundation’s fraud experts and hosted by Alcatraz East, the year-long exhibit, “Scamalot: Conquering the Con,” opens September 21, 2017. Visitors will encounter fraud in its various forms, including impostor scams, investment fraud and lottery scams. The exhibit will also feature stories of notable fraudsters, such as Charles Ponzi, and information on how the public can protect themselves from scams.
“Scamalot” will explore common scams targeting seniors and how to avoid them, including:
- IRS scams, in which a caller posing as an Internal Revenue Service agent threatens the victim with arrest if they don’t pay.
- Tech support scams, in which fraudsters gain access to personal information by offering to “fix” a nonexistent computer virus.
- Sweepstakes scams, which promise a large cash prize in return for a “claim fee.”
“Con artists have their sights set on older adults,” said Emily Allen, senior vice president of programs for AARP Foundation. “Seniors are likely to have accumulated savings, own their home and have good credit — making them attractive targets. We developed ‘Scamalot: Conquering the Con’ to build awareness and understanding of the different types of fraud.”
Among the exhibit’s features will be objects related to infamous fraudsters Bernie Madoff (pictured above), Lou Pearlman and David Hampton. Visitors will also be able to test their scam spotting skills through interactive displays.
The AARP Foundation also assists victims of scams targeting seniors through its ElderWatch program.
Alcatraz East is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge and offers a wide array of exhibits on notorious crimes, law enforcement, and CSI, with historic artifacts and interactives. The Bronco from the famous OJ Simpson chase is currently on display at the museum, along with displays on the Unabomber, Ted Bundy, and Whitey Bulger.