Crooks gun for elderly's emotional soft spot

The number of elderly victims in cheating-related offences climbed in the past four years.

Last year, 95 people aged 65 and above fell prey to conmen, almost double of the 56 reported cases in 2011.

Professor Andy Ho from the Nanyang Technological University said crooks tend to target the "psychological soft spots of the elderly".

"These include family members and people the elderly care about or when it comes to making a quick buck," he said.

"Research have shown elderly victims are those with low education and financial resources. They would generally believe what is told to them by someone of power or someone they know," Prof Ho said.


Collaborating with the National Crime Prevention Council, the police have embarked on many Community Safety and Security Programmes designed specifically to involve the elderly.

They have initiated the Elderly Crime Prevention Ambassador scheme, aimed at raising crime prevention awareness among seniors.

They have also launched the Silver Watch Group scheme, which not only educates senior citizens against crimes such as robbery, snatch theft and scams, but also enlists their help as "eyes and ears" for suspicious or criminal activity in the heartland.

The police advise the elderly to:

  • Be wary if approached directly by strangers or through telephone or e-mail.
  • Check on the credibility of information or messages that they receive.
  • Hide user account IDs, passwords, PINs and credit card details.
  • Not transfer any money via remittance agencies, banks or any other means to anyone they do not know.
  • Remember that offers that are too good to be true are probably fake.
  • Call the police immediately to report scams.