Scammers Swiping Billions from Senior Americans Yearly

( – Scammers are increasingly swiping billions of dollars from elderly Americans annually. The situation has gotten so bad that the American Association of Retired Persons established the AARP Fraud Watch Network (FWN) in 2013 to inform senior Americans about the latest scams and help victims find support.

On July 7, The Associated Press published an in-depth article discussing the rise of online and phone scams targeting older people. The report noted that America’s graying, coupled with the rise of artificial intelligence, is making matters worse and making it “easier than ever” for fraudsters to avoid prosecution.

AAPR Fraud Prevention Director and head of the group’s FWN Kathy Stokes told the AP that scams have increased “exponentially” in recent years, overwhelming law enforcement officials and prosecutors. Noting that victims rarely recover their losses, she explained that internet and phone fraud has reached “a crisis level in society.”

Stokes explained that fraudsters “have joined the fray because it’s pretty easy to be a criminal.” She warned that scammers don’t have to conform to societal norms or rules, make a lot of money, and “there’s very little chance” of getting caught, much less prosecuted.

The latest figures from the FBI support Stokes’ concerns. The agency’s latest Internet Crime Complaint Center Elder Fraud Report for 2023 showed that the number of reports increased by 14% over those listed for 2022.

The 21-page report confirmed that scams targeting victims aged 60 and older created more than $3.4 billion in losses in 2023, representing an 11% increase year-on-year. Victims of elder fraud lost an average of $33,915 last year.

The FBI report also noted that scams and fraud disproportionately impact older Americans, with more than 101K victims aged 60 and older reporting that kind of crime to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2023. Inversely, only 18K individuals under 20 reported suspected fraud or scams.

Tech support scams (17,696 reports) topped the list of reports from older Americans, followed by personal data breaches (7,333), confidence and romance scams (6,740), no-delivery and non-payment scams (6,693), and investment scams (6,443). However, scams involving investments cost elderly victims the most, with more than $1.2 billion in losses reported in 2023. Each of the other four fraud types led to millions of dollars of losses respectively.

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