ELDERLY men are more likely to fall victim to “smooth-talking” internet scammers because they’re less likely to ask for help, campaigners claimed.
Age UK issued the warning after cyber crime experts issued a warning to “silver surfers” to remain vigilant when handling email.
The charity also said that older computer users are more likely to be duped because they have more free cash to hand out for worthy causes.
The pensioners are being caught out by spam emails offering offer products or asking for financial help.
Others effectively hold the computer ransom and don’t return the computer’s back to normal unless a fee is paid.
Lindsay Scott, spokeswoman for Age Scotland, said in a recent survey the charity found half the over 60’s they questioned were targeted by digital scams last year.
She said: “Today’s pensioners still make a prime target for con artists because they generally have more disposable income.
“They’re also usually more trusting having grown up at a time when things were taken at face value.
“It’s also true longer life expectancy has resulted in a growing generation of people in later life who perhaps live alone, are maybe a bit forgetful or simply become confused or frightened by smooth-talking scammers.
“This combination of not remembering correctly and in many cases – particularly involving men – being unwilling to admit there’s a problem, can make older adults especially vulnerable to this sort of crime.”
One of the most prominent online scams is ransomware – a category of malicious software which when activated disables the functionality of a computer.
The programme effectively holds the computer ransom and states the user must pay a fee in order to return the computer to normal.
It is estimated over £3 million a year is being extorted from victims in this way.
The Scottish Business Crime Centre (SBCC) is now fronting a campaign to raise awareness of various issues that can place older people at risk of financial harm.
Gary Ritchie, Assistant Director of SBCC, said: “These con men will stop at nothing to shamelessly deceive and swindle internet users out of personal details and money.
“While many of us have been using the internet for some time and have grown to recognise these types of scam emails, anyone can be caught out as new scams are constantly being designed to trick unwary web surfers into parting with money or personal information.
“The increase in ‘silver surfers’ using the internet as a way of communicating now means that older people are increasingly exposed to these crimes.
“Older people in particular are prone to falling for emails that appear legitimate.
“They look like official emails which appear to be from a well known bank or unsolicited mails where the scammer tells of recent disastrous events which have left them stranded, usually in a foreign country with no money and no passport.
“Sadly these people are frequently conned out of huge sums of money.
“Crimes against people who perhaps don’t have the same capabilities or support to protect themselves as others is appalling and has no place in Scotland.”
Chief Inspector Ronnie Megaughin at Police Scotland, also chair of the Adults at Risk from Financial Harm Group, added: “There are a number of factors which require to be present for frauds or scams to be successful and the vulnerability of the victim is at the heart of that equation.
“While anyone can be duped, those who are most vulnerable within our communities are faced with the greatest risk.”