Senior citizens losing billions to scammers, new report finds

The FBI says 2023 was another big year for scammers swindling seniors. The new ‘Elder Fraud Report’ released Tuesday says those over 60 lost billions at the hands of criminals.

It can be hard for anybody in this day and age to trust someone, especially a stranger, when it seems everyone is looking for something. 

Joan Stone learned that the hard way when she got scammed.

Senior Scam Alert

"I got a telephone call from a gentleman who seemed to say all the right things," she said.

RELATED: New Georgia law targets elder, incapacitated adult abuse

Stone says it was fear based. She says he told her he was the police and that her license would be suspended because she had outstanding warrants. After giving him money, she found out he called her from jail.

"I'm so lucky that it was only $350, because he could have cleared out my checking account, my savings account," Stone said.

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Aaron Seres from FBI Atlanta’s Financial Crimes Unit says they see a lot of cases like this, but oftentimes for a lot more money. He says every case they work is heartbreaking.  

"It makes me irate and the people, unfortunately, often think that it was their fault or somehow they're to blame," he said. "These are professional criminals."

The FBI’s new Elder Fraud Report says there was a 14% increase in the number of complaints filed by that age group with total losses topping $3.4 Billion. In Georgia, that figure is about $92 Million.

Most common financial elderly scam

The FBI says tech support scammers continue to be the number one crime impacting those over 60, while investment scams are the costliest to the elderly in terms of financial losses.

"The best advice I give to people is to continue about your day, but when you have a solicitation for using your money, which you work very hard to get, be careful before you send it out," Seres said.

Seres says the Atlanta Office is one of its busiest for fraud, but says he does not think they see every case because some do not want to report it.

For Stone, she’s a proud 74-year-old, but never expected to be scammed.

"I think it's terrible that they are targeting seniors in this respect," she said.

What to do if you've been scammed online?

The FBI says if you have been taken, you should immediately report it to your bank and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.