International Fraud Awareness Week is recognized November 14-20, 2021, though fraud is a topic to be attentive to year-round. Fraud, like problem gambling, affects people from all backgrounds and walks of life and can present in different forms. It’s important to know what fraud looks and sounds like, and steps that can be taken to avoid exposures.
According to CEO Bruce Dorris, J.D., CFE, CPA, of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, “Whether it’s a trusted employee stealing from a small business, or organized rings of fraudsters targeting seniors in our community…It is a serious problem that requires a proactive approach toward preventing it…” At times, the person who perpetrated these frauds were compulsive gamblers who exhausted all other options and turned to illegal activity. Given 85% of all fraudsters display at least one of the red flags covered in the following video while committing their crimes, it is not difficult to understand why someone addicted to gambling would consider engaging in such activities when financial losses become insurmountable:
The coronavirus pandemic was also accompanied by an outbreak of scams, particularly among older adults. As of mid-September, the Federal Trade Commission reported more than 600,000 consumer complaints related to COVID-19 and stimulus payments, over 70% of which involved fraud or identity theft. Beyond the costs of these scams to consumers, they further created an entry point for criminals who prey on the vulnerable and unknowing.
Some guidelines for avoiding fraudulent situations include:
• Never provide information to any person contacting you on behalf of a government agency or company without first confirming its legitimacy. Further, do not respond to texts, emails, or letters by mail, from unfamiliar persons. Instead, seek confirmation and authenticity via means other than information provided by the contact.
• Be attentive when shopping online to assure you are working with a bona fide company.
• Be certain you have an anti-virus program installed on computers, assure the software is current and virus scans are routinely performed.
• Avoid donating money to anyone requiring payment via cash, wire transfers, or gift cards.
• Safeguard your credit cards, related information, and routinely update computer passwords.
Keep in mind, if something sounds too good to be true, it typically is, so if you are contacted about winning a lottery or sweepstakes, be sure to authenticate the information. If you suspect it is a scam, report it to the Florida Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226). For other scams, contact the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Finally, if you or someone you know is experiencing a gambling problem, before considering desperate measures, contact the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling’s 24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), by text (321-978-0555), email (email@example.com), live chat (gamblinghelp.org), via the 888-ADMIT-IT App (https://landing.appypie.com/888-admit-it), or on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. 888-ADMIT-IT makes Healing One Day at a Time a reality in Florida.
 Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (2021). International Fraud Awareness Week, Press Release Template, November 14-20, 2021.
 Behavioral Red Flags of Fraud, International Fraud Awareness Week, November 14-20, 2021. Retrieved https://www.fraudweek.com/-/media/Files/Fraudweek/PDFs/2021/BehavioralRedFlags.
 Waggonner, J. & Markowitz, A. (2021). Beware of Robocalls, Texts and Emails Promising COVID-19 Cures or Stimulus Payments: Coronavirus scams spreading as fraudsters follow the headlines, AARP, September 28, 2021). Retrieved https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2020/coronavirus.html.