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Elderly Americans Lost Over $3.4 Billion To Fraud In 2023; Here Are The Most Common Scams

As per FBI, losses to scams reported by Americans over the age of 60 jumped 11% in 2023.
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Matt Bennett
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Matt Bennett

Elderly Americans lost over $3.4 billion to scammers last year, according to FBI’s Elder Fraud Report. Such losses to scams reported by Americans over the age of 60 jumped 11% in 2023 over the year before, as per the report. Scammers are increasingly targeting elders, a vulnerable group, with sophisticated criminal tactics to trick them into giving up their life savings.

Representative Image : Pexels | Photo by Kevin Bidwell
Representative Image : Pexels | Photo by Kevin Bidwell

Last year, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received over 880,000 complaints with potential losses of over $12.5 Billion. While there was an 11% increase in reported losses suffered by the elderly, there was a 14% increase in complaints filed with IC3 by elderly victims. With over 100,000 complaints coming from victims of scams over the age of 60, about 6,000 people lost over $100,000 last year.

As per the report, tech support fraud was the number one crime across the nation. This scam impacted people over 60 the most, with nearly 18,000 complaints and almost $600 million in reported losses. Furthermore, half of the complainants of call center scams were over 60 (40%), and they experienced 58% of the losses, nearly $770 million.

As per AP, in such scams criminals most commonly impersonate technology, banking, and government officials over the phone. They then convince victims that their bank accounts or other important information has been compromised and ask for a payment to secure them or instruct them to move their funds into a fake secured account which is controlled by the scammers.

Meanwhile, investment scams were the costliest to the elderly with losses exceeding $1.2 billion. In these scams, fraudsters reach out to potential victims with bogus lucrative schemes, creating a façade to extract investments. Complainants over the age of 60 lost more to these scams than all other age groups combined.

Some victims remortgaged/foreclosed homes dipped or drained their retirement accounts, and borrowed money to cover losses in these scams. Some have reportedly taken their own lives as well from the shame or loss of sustainable income.

“This report underscores the fact that seniors are a particularly vulnerable victim group and are often specifically targeted for fraud by bad actors,” assistant director in charge of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office, Mehtab Syed said in the report.

Confidence/Romance Scam: In these scams, criminals pose as romantic interests through dating websites and lure elderly victims into investing in fraudulent schemes or simply stealing money.

Tech Support Scam: In this, criminals pose as tech support representatives and reach out to the technologically challenged group. They pretend to offer help to fix non-existent computer issues only to gain remote access to victims’ devices. They then access bank or other accounts, and sensitive information.

Investment Scam: Investment scam involves complex financial crimes that are promoted as low-risk investments with guaranteed/hefty returns. Common types of investment fraud include advanced fee fraud, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, market manipulation fraud, and trust-based investing, as per the FBI.

Cryptocurrency Scam: A type of investment fraud, in this scammers lure victims into making bogus crypto investments or convert/deposit large sums of cash into cryptocurrencies and deposit them in the scammers’ account.