The FBI recently released its annual elder fraud report for 2022. According to the FBI, losses from elder fraud increased 84 percent in 2022 when compared with the previous year. The losses from fraud in 2022 totaled $3.1 billion and affected over 88,000 people over the age of 60. The average loss was $35,101 per victim and over five thousand people lost more the $100,000.
One of the most common scams is where a scammer will pretend to be calling from a company or government agency. This is known as either call center fraud or impersonation. Scammers try to trick potential victims into disclosing information, such as account numbers or login information, that will allow the scammer to empty the victim’s financial accounts. The number of people victimized by this crime has been increasing in recent years with over 20,000 people being victimized in 2022.
Investment fraud is another common form of elder fraud. Investment fraud involves scammers trying to get people to invest in fraudulent investments. The scammers typically promise that the investment opportunity offers extremely high yields with little or no downside risk. Scammers may lure victims in by initially gaining their trust and then offering the opportunity to invest much more money, in some cases their entire life savings, into a fake sure-fire investment opportunity. Once the victims hand over their money, the scammer disappears with the entire investment. The losses experienced by people over 60 from investment fraud totaled nearly one billion dollars in 2022.
Other common crimes are lottery scams, relative impersonation scams, and dating scams. The commonality involved in all of these is a promised resolution that requires some amount of money to fix.
Individuals should be wary of any unsolicited ask for money. Individuals should be especially wary if the ask comes from someone they’ve never met in person. Even if the ask comes from a purported relative, find another method of communication to confirm the relative’s identity. Insistence that a payment or investment must be made immediately is another red flag. Always take the time to conduct your own independent research from trustworthy sources before making any investments or information disclosures.
If you, or a relative, has been a victim of elder financial fraud, help is available from the National Elder Fraud Hotline at the number 1-883-FRAUD11 (1-833-372-8311).
The full report can be found here: FBI Elder Fraud Report 2022
For assistance with estate planning, wills and trusts, special needs planning, and related areas, please call Mitchell, Brown and Associates at (314) 962-0186.