The fastest growing form of elder abuse is elder financial exploitation (EFE). It is the illegal or improper use of an older person’s funds, property, or assets – perhaps at the hands of family members, friends, neighbors, caregivers, or health care providers.
Types of EFE crimes include:
Elder theft comprises two-thirds of reported EFE cases and examples include:
- Forging checks
- Stealing retirement or Social Security benefits
- Using credit cards or bank accounts without permission
- Changing names on wills, bank accounts, life insurance policies,or real estate titles without permission
Scams involve older adults being deceived into transferring money to them for promised goods, services or financial benefits which do not exist or were misrepresented. Common scams include:
- Tech support scams — Scammers pose as tech repair agents to access victims’ computers and finances.
- Investment scams — Perpetrators dupe investors into making purchases based on false information and promises of large returns with minimal risk.
- Romance scams — Criminals solicit money from victims on dating apps and social media
- Government or family imposter scams — Fraudsters impersonate government officials or family members to demand money.
- Lottery scams — Criminals claim victims must pay taxes or fees to access winnings from a lottery or raffle.
In 2022, the average loss per older adult reported was $35,101 according to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. The FBI reported total losses increased 84% between 2021 and 2022.
Older adults are targeted since they have more accumulated wealth and may:
- Suffer from mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
- Be dependent on others.
- Experience social isolation.
- Be unaware of scams and fraud.
- Be unfamiliar with technology, online services, and safe online behavior.
If you suspect someone you know may have been a victim of elder financial exploitation, please visit the following websites for more information.
- ABA Foundation’s Older Americans Resource Page —aba.com/olderamericans
- Federal Bureau of Investigation —fbi.gov
- Department of Justice —justice.gov/elderjustice/financial-exploitation
- Internet Crime Complaint Center —ic3.gov
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau —consumerfinance.gov
- Federal Trade Commission —ftc.gov
- National Center on Elder Abuse —ncea.acl.gov
- National Adult Protective Services Association —napsa-now.org