He was about to bend down to close his bike when a man approached him and asked if he could change money quickly for the parking meter. Wife and baby were waiting in the car and he was completely late. The man is well dressed, speaks broken German. Heinz Wyss, then 87, stands in the narrow street in front of his house in the old center of Biel. He has just come from the ATM, where he has withdrawn 1000 francs for the expert.
Shortly before noon, there are almost no people on the street. Wyss pulls out his wallet and looks for coins. "That was just an Einfränkler," says the man and reaches into the wallet. Only when Wyss wants to pay the craftsman at the top of the apartment, he notes: the 1000 franc is gone.
In the 54-year-olds alone, an estimated 400 million francs per year are ertrogenic.
Many elderly people experience these or similar experiences, such as a representative study by Pro Senectute on the financial abuse of people over the age of 54 – the first of its kind in Switzerland. According to this, in the past five years, one in four interviewees was attacked with fraudulent intentions, and one in five members suffered financial damage. In the 54-year-olds alone, an estimated 400 million francs per year are ertrogenic.
The research was conducted by the Institute for Combating Economic Crime at the University of Applied Sciences Neuchâtel in February and March. It had interviewed 1257 people. The institute has extrapolated the results to the 2.7 million more than 54-year-olds in Switzerland.
Not just grandchildren
The media often read that elderly people are the victims of grandchildren, cheaters or counterfeit policemen, said Alain Huber, director of Pro Senectute, for the media. But most abuses happened in a different way: 155,000 people were superficially deprived in a public place. A further 62,000 people were stolen at the ATM and 60,000 people were injured because they wanted to help an unknown person, just like Heinz Wyss.
Olivier Beaudet-Labrecque, study advisor and criminologist, assumes that the majority of the deceivers has not been brought in for large amounts. In some cases, however, the fraudsters were extremely successful: the highest amount reported by a respondent in the study was CHF 508,000.
Men are more often victims
It is rather surprising that men (28 percent of respondents) are clearly more likely to fall victim to financial malpractice than women (23 percent). According to Beaudet-Labrecque, the reason is that men are more responsible for finances than for women. In addition, they use more information channels and are exposed to more fraudulent attempts.
The study also clearly shows that the Romands are more often the victim of abuse (37 percent of the respondents) than the Germans (23 percent) or the Ticino (12 percent). The reason is that Romands learn less about financial abuses.
Mistreating family members too
Older people are influenced differently by financial fraud, depending on the age group – most of the 55-64 year-olds and the over-84s. The explanation for this can be found in the various forms of fraud: for example, about 38 percent of people between the ages of 55 and 64 said that people tried to deceive them through the internet, for example through false advertisements, false love relationships or phishing.
For more than 85-year-olds, it was only 12 percent. Also of questionable business practices, such as the fact that goods are sold at excessive prices, or other scams such as the grandchild fraud, the representatives of the youngest age category are more affected.
"Anyone approached in this way by a cheater can barely rid himself of this situation."Olivier Beaudet-Labrecque, criminologist
On the other hand, the over-85s, the most vulnerable of the respondents, are the most likely victims of theft either in public or in an effort to reach their home under a pretext. "Anyone who is approached in this way by a cheater can hardly liberate himself from this situation," says the criminologist.
It is also the elderly of the interviewees who are more exploited in the private sphere. They are pressured by family members to give them money, or they misuse their authority.
Inquire about fraud
It was not investigated more often whether the age group of more than 54-year-old victims of fraud was more frequent than younger. According to Pro Senectute, however, police observations point to this. According to Olivier Beaudet-Labrecque, it has been scientifically proven that older people have more confidence in people who confront them than younger people. These are susceptible to abuse due to their education.
Werner Schärer, director of Pro Senectute, surprised the extent of the financial abuse of the elderly. There is a need for action for the organization. That is why she publishes a booklet on the subject – the more people are informed about the most common scam, the better fraud can be prevented.
In addition, she tries to set up experience groups to help the victims to process the experience. Some suffer from fear, insomnia and mistrust others.
Many are silent out of shame
Most, 61 percent of the respondents, out of shame, did not talk to anyone about the abuse they had suffered. Heinz Wyss already. He was the only one who was willing to go to the media in Bern. "I am here as a victim, as a fool, as a victim," he said in a preliminary.
Of course, afterwards, he had thought a lot, wondering why he had not been attentive any more, and how the deceiver – like a quick-hand trick – could pull the notes unnoticed from his wallet. "And you see, I am no longer stable, and I became aware of how vulnerable I am at the age of 91." Maybe after this incident he might be more cautious – but not just to people who speak German.
Created: 01.10.2018, 17:12 clock