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FBI report: In 2023, scammers stole more than $3.4 billion from older Americans

The latest FBI report indicates a significant increase in financial losses due to the advancement of criminals' tactics

A recent FBI report has revealed a concerning trend: scammers are increasingly targeting older Americans, resulting in financial losses exceeding $3.4 billion last year. This alarming figure underscores the sophistication and effectiveness of the criminal tactics being employed, highlighting an urgent need for awareness and prevention measures.

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According to the FBI’s Elder Fraud Report, there was an 11 percent increase in reported scam losses by Americans over the age of 60 last year compared to the previous year. Investigators are alerting the public to a surge in audacious scams that drain bank accounts by dispatching couriers to personally collect cash or gold from the victims.

“It can be a devastating impact to older Americans who lack the ability to go out and make money,” said Deputy Assistant Director James Barnacle of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “People lose all their money. Some people become destitute.”

In the aftermath of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, a significant increase in fraudulent activities targeting older Americans has been reported. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received over 100,000 complaints from individuals over 60 years of age last year. Alarmingly, close to 6,000 of these individuals reported financial losses exceeding $100,000. This surge in elder fraud is attributed to the increased presence of seniors at home during the pandemic, making them more accessible to scammers via telephone.

Investigators are uncovering a disturbing trend of organized, transnational criminal syndicates that are preying on older Americans through various fraudulent schemes. These include romance scams and investment frauds, with tech support scams being the most frequently reported form of fraud among the elderly last year. In these tech support scams, perpetrators impersonate technical or customer service representatives over the phone. A particularly insidious version of this scam, which is gaining traction, involves criminals posing as officials from technology, banking, or government sectors. They deceive victims into believing that their bank accounts have been compromised by foreign hackers. The scammers then persuade the victims to transfer their funds into a new account for protection, which, unbeknownst to the victims, is controlled by the scammers themselves.

Federal investigators have observed an increase from May to December in the number of scammers employing live couriers to collect money from individuals who have been misled into believing their accounts are compromised, the FBI reports. In such instances, the criminals convince the victims that their bank accounts are hacked and advise them to convert their assets into cash or purchase gold or other precious metals to safeguard their finances. Subsequently, the scammers coordinate a courier to retrieve the assets in person.

“A lot of the fraud schemes are asking victims to send money via a wire transfer or a cryptocurrency transfer. When the victim is reluctant to do that, they’re given an alternative,” Barnacle said. “And so the bad guy will use courier services.”

An 81-year-old man from Ohio faces charges for the fatal shooting of an Uber driver in March. Authorities state that the man believed the driver was attempting to rob him following scam calls from an individual impersonating a court officer demanding money. The Uber driver was instructed to collect a package from the man’s residence, a directive that may have originated from the scammer or an associate.

The significant financial losses suffered by older Americans are probably underestimated. Approximately half of the over 880,000 complaints filed with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center last year disclosed the victim’s age. Additionally, numerous victims hesitate to report these crimes.

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This site is about online scams! We inform people so that they are not deceived by scammers who use stolen photos. You can send your story to [email protected]

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