FBI report reveals scammers defrauded older Americans of $3.4 billion last year

Scammers stole more than $3.4 billion from older Americans last year, according to an FBI analysis issued Tuesday, indicating a spike in losses caused by increasingly sophisticated criminal tactics used to deceive the vulnerable into giving up their life savings.

According to the FBI’s research, losses from scams reported by Americans over 60 increased by 11% last year compared to the previous year. Investigators are warning of an increase in brazen bank account draining operations that entail deploying couriers in person to collect cash or gold from victims.

“It can have a devastating impact on older Americans who are unable to go out and earn money,” said Deputy Assistant Director James Barnacle of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “They lose all of their money. Some people become poor.

Last year, the FBI received more than 100,000 complaints from victims of scammers over the age of 60, with over 6,000 losing more than $100,000 each. It comes after a significant increase in reported losses by older Americans in the two years following the 2020 coronavirus epidemic, when people were confined to their homes and easier to reach over the phone.

FBI report reveals scammers defrauded older Americans of $3.4 billion last year

Barnacle stated that investigators are finding organized, multinational criminal businesses targeting older Americans through a range of schemes, including romance scams and financial frauds.

Last year, the most common type of fraud reported by older individuals was tech support scams, in which thieves impersonate as technical or customer care staff over the phone. In one such scam, which authorities say is becoming more popular, criminals impersonate technology, banking, and government officials to convince victims that foreign hackers have infiltrated their bank accounts and that they should transfer their funds to a new account that the scammers secretly control.

According to the FBI, between May and December, there was an increase in scammers utilizing live couriers to steal money from victims who were fooled into believing their accounts had been hijacked. In those circumstances, scammers inform victims that their bank accounts have been compromised and that they must liquidate their assets for cash or purchase gold or other precious metals to secure their wealth. The fraudsters then arrange for a courier to collect it in person.

“A lot of fraud schemes require victims to send money via wire transfer or cryptocurrency transfer.” When the victim is unwilling to do so, they are given an alternative,” Barnacle explained. “And so the bad guy will use courier services.”

According to prosecutors, an 81-year-old Ohio man shot and killed an Uber driver who he believed was attempting to rob him after receiving fraudulent phone calls earlier this month.

The man had been receiving calls from someone claiming to be an officer from the local court and demanding money. The Uber driver had been instructed to get a package from the man’s residence, a request that officials believe was made by the same hoax caller or an accomplice.

The enormous losses to older Americans are most likely an underestimate. Only roughly half of the more than 880,000 complaints submitted to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center last year included information about the victim’s age.


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