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  • Writer's pictureKelly Griese

Why Are Seniors a Preferred Target of Fraudsters?

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

From the Greatest Generation to more recent retirees in the Baby Boomer population, people over the age of 60 account for 30% of investment fraud victims. To make matters worse, this is a GROWING problem. The 65-and-older population grew 18% between 2000 and 2011 to 41.4 million, and the aging population is expected to nearly double by 2029.

The average loss for senior financial abuse victims is between $12,500 and $25,000. But there’s no need for YOU to become a victim. Arm yourself with information and learn how these fraudsters operate and identify some red flags of elder abuse.

Several factors add up to equal an appealing target. Let’s take a look at some common traits among seniors that are exploited by fraudsters.

  • Trusting – Seniors grew up in a different generation. You could argue people were more trustworthy in the past. Also, communities were smaller then, and people knew their neighbors. Some seniors come from towns where folks don’t lock their doors.

  • Polite – Again, this is a generational issue. Etiquette is changing. While younger people are fine with telling someone to leave them alone, a senior citizen may feel it’s rude to hang up when they receive an unsolicited call.

  • Lonely – Many seniors, especially widows, are socially isolated and possibly depressed. A fraudster who offers companionship has a better chance at manipulating seniors.

  • Interested – If a senior made bad financial decisions in the past and is now worried about the future, he or she could be looking for good deals. The promise of high returns with low risk is too tempting to pass up.

On top of that, cognitive decline is also a neurobiological basis for seniors' vulnerability to financial exploitation. According to a 2012 article published in the Journal of the American Society on Aging, 35% of people over the age of 71 showed some form of mental impairment or dementia.

While it is easy enough to see how dementia could lead to poor decision making with money, even people with mild cognitive impairment are at risk. Dr. Daniel Marson, Professor of Neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, found people with mild cognitive impairment make FOUR TIMES the financial errors as those without the condition.

Financial exploitation of seniors is about more than money. It's a health concern. That's why the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation program was created. Seniors, their families, and even their medical care providers are encouraged to visit to learn more.


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