According to the old memo: Russian pensioners are again overwhelmed by scammers with dietary supplements | December 7, 2023

Source: News

Recently, the police detained a group of crooks who defrauded victims of at least 2.5 million rubles. Details are in the Izvestia article.

Miracle delivered to your home

Six suspects were detained in three regions of the country (Moscow region, Ryazan region and Stavropol region). The investigation charges them with three counts of fraud against pensioners from St. Petersburg. The accomplices, having the personal data of elderly people, called them, introduced themselves as employees of a medical institution and reported about health problems allegedly discovered in pensioners. For emergency and effective treatment, they offered to purchase medications, and payment was demanded as soon as possible. A courier-accomplice came to a 79-year-old resident of the Moskovsky district of St. Petersburg immediately after the call and persuaded her to give up almost $13 thousand (about 1.2 million rubles at the exchange rate on the day of the crime). According to the same scenario, the attackers stole 650 thousand rubles from an 83-year-old woman from the same district of St. Petersburg. Another 700 thousand rubles were given to the group by a deceived 84-year-old pensioner from the Kirovsky district of the city.

People with sales skills

Izvestia managed to find out some information about the identities of the suspects. Three of them are from the Ryazan region. 34-year-old Alexey K. had a retail outlet in Rybnoye, and also worked as a private driver and transporter of goods. Dmitry K. born 1995 was engaged in the sale of food products. A native of Elatma, born in 1987, worked in conjunction with them. The trio was accompanied by Natalya G., a resident of Kolomna. Presumably, she worked closely with Vladimir T., who also lived in the Moscow region in recent years. Also included in the group was a Stavropol entrepreneur originally from Kazakhstan, 49-year-old Vladimir L. (has a license for retail sales of products and online trading). However, the man’s business has experienced difficulties in recent years, with debts amounting to a six-figure amount.

Reaction from above

In some cases, the deception is discovered by doctors, who are surprised to learn that their institution is being used as a front for deception. For example, in the Ivanovo region, employees of State Security No. 7 officially warned local residents about scammers who call members of the older generation on their behalf.

“Be careful! The doctor does not make appointments over the phone, he writes prescriptions during the examination and never orders delivery. If your illness (for example, a new coronavirus infection) requires the attending physician to dispense medications, the medical worker will do this on his own,” the hospital warns Ivanovo residents.

Burp of the past

The first call centers offering older people dubious dietary supplements and “medical devices” unknown to official science appeared at the end of the 2000s. But the peak of such fraud occurred in 2012–2014, retired Colonel of Justice Sergei Pelikh told Izvestia.

“This is due to the development of semi-legal call centers,” says an expert on organized crime and international drug trafficking. “Some of those who came up with a mechanism that combined effective mass calls with delivery of goods later went into the drug business. Phones have replaced anonymous messengers, and dietary supplements have become bookmarks. From the same “nest” scammers emerged using the “relative in trouble” scheme. It is based on the same effective marketing and psychological techniques.

Intelligence increases the cost of an attack

According to another former criminal investigation officer, serious scammers of this type first conduct a thorough check of the potential “client”.

“At the peak of this crime, which occurred in the last decade, scammers had informants from medical institutions who reported that pensioners had undergone medical examinations and informed about tests. I do not rule out that today, given the risk of being caught, they also conduct financial intelligence, find out whether the pensioner is solvent, whether he has savings.

According to him, there are much more crimes than is reflected in the reports – not everyone reports buying “miracle pills.”

— Some people, especially representatives of the older generation, are characterized by mystical thinking. I know of cases where people gave a lot of money and drank pacifiers [таблетки]and then they also told their peers how cleverly they deceived the disease, although there was no disease.

According to him, most often pensioners turn to the police after the intervention of younger relatives.

Twice in one funnel

A resident of Kursk, deceived in the past when purchasing dietary supplements, at the end of November again became a victim of scammers – she was promised to return the stolen money. The caller introduced himself as a lawyer and promised to extract compensation. As a result of negotiations, the woman gave the criminal 389 thousand rubles. Previously, the victim’s fellow countrywoman found herself in the same situation and transferred 170 thousand rubles to the swindlers.

A few weeks ago, a resident of the Kemerovo region lost about 1 million rubles using the same scheme. The caller introduced himself as a police officer. The drama of the situation is that most of the funds were taken as a loan.

“The interlocutor said that the woman from whom the pensioner previously bought medicines turned out to be a fraudster, and now clients are allegedly entitled to compensation in the amount of 730 thousand rubles. To obtain it, it was necessary to pay an insurance premium in the amount of 52 thousand rubles. The pensioner sent the money to the specified account, and soon he received a call from the false banker, who demanded that the contribution be transferred again, as well as the entire payment amount, otherwise the compensation would be canceled. He was guaranteed to return the deposited funds along with compensation. The citizen applied for a loan and made seven transfers to the specified account. Having not received the promised money, the victim realized that he had become a victim of a fraudster and reported the incident to the police,” the department said in a statement. Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kuzbass.

Attraction for those over 70

Psychiatrist Alexey Vilkov explained to Izvestia why older people are especially susceptible to near-medical deception scenarios.

— Two factors play a role. The first is a decline in cognitive abilities in old age. This includes increased gullibility, a decrease in intelligence, and a decrease in criticism of both one’s condition and external information. And also absent-mindedness and forgetfulness. The second factor is the topic of health. In old age, most people have a number of chronic diseases, undergo treatment and examinations. Health often comes first for them. And when scammers offer a cure for illness, it always resonates with pensioners. Therefore, given the decline in cognitive functions, scammers are more likely to achieve their goals.

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