Older Man Loses Life Savings After Falling For Online Scam — His Son Reveals The Biggest Red Flags He Missed

Anybody can fall for them, if they’re not careful.

Older man frustratedly staring at his computer Perfect Wave / Shutterstock; TippaPatt / Shutterstock

While many older people are traditional targets for scams — especially online scams — research has shown that people of all demographics and ages can fall victim to these predatory schemes. With the creativity of insidious online scams today, falling prey to these traps can be far too easy, leading to detrimental consequences. 

That’s exactly the reality that this family was forced to confront after their father sent his contact information to a nefarious Twitter account. The account advertised a cryptocurrency investment, one that had a “guaranteed return” of over 100%. 


What seemed like a no-brainer to help his family with money turned out to be a nightmare for this 74-year-old dad. Not only did he lose his initial $250 “investment,” but over $140,000 including his entire life savings, retirement fund, and an additional $30,000 loan he took out for the misguided venture. 

Andrew Knapp revealed the online ‘crypto’ scam his father fell victim to and detailed several unsuspicious red flags. 

Oftentimes, the traditional stereotype of scams and the people behind them are much different than the reality. So, when we meet trusting, kind, and compassionate people on the internet, it’s easy to be led astray. 


From losing his wife to wanting to give back to his kids, the scammer used each heartbreaking story he shared over the phone as a means to take more money. 



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While you’re reminding your parents about the traditional financial scams looming on Facebook or on the other side of their landline Andrew Knapp shared the red flags he missed while his dad was being taken advantage of. 


1. Online scammers will use language like 'guaranteed' to lure in victims.

Knapp candidly shared, "There are no guarantees." This is especially important to acknowledge with any financial investment scam. The minute you see or hear this language, it's a "guaranteed" scam.



2. Online scammers tend to utilize time pressure and try to lock people in before they can get a second opinion or recognize other red flags. 

Many online scammers use a “cognitive bias” to their advantage when attacking victims. This bias is the tendency of the human brain to simplify incoming information through a filter of personal experience and preference. When a great deal of information is coming in at a very fast pace, this inherent bias reduces our ability to spot red flags or gaps in reasoning, which makes it easier for scammers to coerce victims toward their goals. 



Especially for coercion into financial scams, many perpetrators use time pressure as a tactic. Before victims can recognize anything "shady" or get a second opinion from someone more “tech-savvy” the scammers will try to force their victims into a commitment quickly.


3. Online scammers will create a false sense of trust so they can take full advantage of a victim while they remain ignorant of any foul play. 

Knapp explained the emotional manipulation his dad faced. After the woman from Twitter contacted him, he not only was interested to hear about the financial opportunity but was excited to have someone to talk to. 

They talked about him living alone, losing his wife, and all the things he was going to do with the wealth soon to be acquired from this new “investment.” After learning all about his life, the online scammer used his answers to coerce him into sending more money, going so far as to, ask him if “he trusted her enough” to continue forward. 



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An inherently caring and trustworthy person, the son revealed, his dad drained every ounce of money from his accounts. 

As a recourse to their financial losses, Knapp started a fundraiser to support his dad.

It has since gone viral, inspiring true hope amidst the fraud.

Son Reveals Red Flags For Online Scams After His Father Lost Everything Photo: fizkes / Canva Pro

Checking up on him often, Knapp expressed the sadness he felt for his father. His once-cheerful dad turned solemn after the incident. Knapp said, “Usually he’s too humble or proud” to admit he’s not doing well, but lately he’s been “just okay” when I ask. 


“He’s a good person. As good as they come,” the son shared. “He’s my role model and my favorite person in the world. To see his spirits broken down like this, I don’t know how to stomach it.” 

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In an effort to help his dad rebuild his savings and pay off his new loan, he decided to start a GoFundMe page after his initial video gained traction. When the fundraiser earned over $16,000 in donations he couldn’t wait to share the news and hoped it would give his dad an opportunity to smile after a rough few months. 




On the verge of tears, the dad thanked the kind people who sent donations his way. As of December 18, the GoFundMe surpassed its goal at over $76,000 worth of donations. 

While the father’s story might’ve ended on a slightly higher note, many victim’s stories do not.

Especially with the power of the internet today, you can lose everything in a matter of seconds without being aware of common red flags or schemes. 

This son’s advice for spotting online scams summed it up perfectly: “If it’s too good to be true — it probably is.” 


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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture and human interest stories.