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Complaints of Fraud Targeting Older Americans Rose 14% in 2023

Fraud targeting older Americans’ money or cryptocurrency increased by double-digit percentages in 2023.

The number of complaints of elder fraud increased by 14% during the year, while the associated losses rose by 11%, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) said in a Tuesday (April 30) press release.

Individuals 60 years and older reported 101,068 of these scams in 2023 and lost $3.4 billion to fraud, with the average victim losing $33,915, according to IC3’s 2023 Elder Fraud Report released Tuesday.

These figures are likely lower than the actual numbers because many of these crimes go unreported and because about half of those that are reported do not include the victim’s age, per the release.

“Combatting the financial exploitation of those over 60 years of age continues to be a priority of the FBI,” FBI Assistant Director Michael D. Nordwall, who leads the Bureau’s Criminal Investigative Division, wrote in the report.

Tech support scams were the most widely reported form of elder fraud in 2023, with 17,696 victims reporting this scam, according to the release. Other common forms of fraud include personal data breaches (7,333), confidence and romance scams (6,740), non-payment and non-delivery scams (6,693), and investment scams (6,443).

“Call centers overwhelmingly target older adults, to devastating effect,” the report said.

Investment scams were the costliest form of elder fraud during the year, with victims losing $1.2 billion, the release said. The next most costly types of fraud were tech support scams ($590 million), business email compromise scams ($382 million), confidence and romance scams ($357 million) and government impersonation scams ($180 million).

“Investment fraud involves complex financial crimes often characterized as low-risk investments with guaranteed returns,” the report said. “They comprise of advanced fee frauds, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, market manipulation fraud, real estate investing and trust-based investing such as cryptocurrency investment scams.”

Noting the problem of financial crimes against older Americans, senior citizen-focused financial platform Charlie introduced a suite of fraud protection tools called FraudShield in November 2023.

Designed specifically for older Americans, these tools include the ability to toggle off online transactions, to have a partner on an account to help keep tabs on fraud threats, and to add a personal touch to their homepage so they don’t get scammed by fake bank websites.