It may be helpful to get an impression, albeit unrepresentative, of when and where swindles occur, but this general information is unlikely to be sufficient to help consumers ward off a swindle's sophisticated approach.
Unfortunately, analyses of case studies of swindles reveal few danger signals and escape mechanisms.
As older Americans are often victimized by confidence swindles (Friedman 1992), it was also decided to focus on this population subgroup.
The mail survey was undertaken to gather national materials dealing with individual confidence swindles disseminated by these organizations.
As noted in Table 1, a wide spectrum of attempted swindles emerged from the respondents' 304 reports, ranging from the familiar (e.
In comparing what the respondents reported in Phase One with what was found in Phase Two in the nationally disseminated materials, it was determined that (a) many of the swindle varieties dealt with by the respondents were not pursued in the national materials and (b) in those instances in which the same varieties of swindles were dealt with by the respondents and the national materials, the specific danger signals and escape mechanisms identified by the respondents often were not mentioned in the national materials.
TABLE 1 Commonly Used Swindles Reported by Respondents in Phase One Also Addressed in Phase Two Materials Swindle Type Number Yes No Sweepstakes-Phone 75 X Sweepstakes-Mail 41 X Home Improvements 31 X Credit Cards 18 X "Pigeon Drop" 18 X Investments 17 X Door-to-Door Sales 11 X Phone Cards 11 X Donations 8 X Health Insurance 8 X Tax Refunds 8 X "Bank Examiner" 5 X Time Share Offers 5 X Auto Repairs 4 X Lottery 4 X Pyramid Schemes 4 X Wills/Trusts 4 X Collect Calls 3 X "Jamaican Switch" 2 X "Block Hustle" 2 X Fortune Teller 2 X Phony Serviceman 2 X Social Security 2 X Other 18 TOTAL 304
The differences found for danger signals and escape methods identified by the older consumers and those noted in national materials on confidence swindles have implications for the designers of consumer informational materials and programs to help older Americans avoid victimization by confidence swindlers.