Nevada Seniors Learn Cybersecurity as Cybercrime Infects the Nation


April 11, 2024


Business, Education, Law & Justice, Technology, Technology


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(RENO, Nev.)—Are you a victim of cybercrime? How secure is your network? Do you have unique passwords for every online account? These are some of the questions Reno Police (RPD) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) had for seniors in the City of Reno at a cybercrime awareness event. The event, partnered by EngAged, was held at the McKinley Arts and Culture Center downtown. Cybercrimes rage on in the nation targeting senior members of the community. 

RPD officer Eric Hague, who works in the Financial Crimes Unit and Computer Crimes Unit and is assigned to the U.S. Secret Service Cyber Fraud Task Force, shared tips for avoiding scams.  He covered password security, the use of password managers, software vulnerabilities, gift card scams, skimming, crypto ATMs, “Pig Butchering,” and cold calls (phone, text, email). Hague stressed that “Pig Butchering” (also known as the love con) scams alone have zero recoverability in losses and have cost victims millions of dollars.

“Fraud in this area is out of control … and it seems to be a national problem,” Hague said. In Reno, he said,  fraud is “uncontrollable at this point with the staffing that we have.”

He encouraged anyone who has experienced cybercrimes to report them so law enforcement is aware of them and can keep track of them to prevent others from becoming victims.

McKinley Arts and Culture Center in Reno, Nevada [Credit: Hannah Lemire]

Timothy Johnston, vice president of outreach for the Better Business Bureau,  explained how his organization vets businesses through character evaluations, dispute resolution, customer reviews, and consumer business education. 

He referred victims to the BBB’s  Scam Tracker, which allows users to track and report scams in real-time. He also cited a data source provided by the Federal Trade Commission called the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) which collects consumer reports and provides data that can be helpful in the tracking process. CSN data shows Nevada ranked third last year among states for reported fraud and identity thefts receiving almost 47,000 reports. Johnston said these crimes have cost Nevadans $113.6 million in 2023, with a median loss of nearly $9,000 per report. He added that online purchase scams are the most common scams in the community for the third year running and that three out of four victims reported losing money. He said consumers should avoid making purchases on social media.

Nationally, the CSN reports that email scams are No. 1 in fraud, costing Americans $430 million with a median loss of nearly $600 per victim. Credit cards, specifically new accounts, are No. 1 in identity theft, costing victims across the country $230 million in losses. This is down 7% from the year before in 2022. Reno ranks 93rd in metro area fraud reports per 100K people, and 159th in identity theft.

Judy Serpilio who attended the event said, “I think some of it was over my head, and he also talked a little fast.” She added, “I liked it!”

EngAGED is a national program providing paths for older adults to participate more in their communities. EngAGED is partnered with the City of Reno, Washoe County, and the Sparks Senior Advisory Committee. The City of Reno Senior Engagement Coordinator, Izabella Baumann, is pleased by the turnout and tries to organize events for seniors monthly. 

“I created different activities and events for seniors to decrease social isolation amongst them,” said Baumann. “I’ve always wanted to give back to the senior community.”

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