FBI Dallas Spotlight on Elder Abuse Awareness
Scammers Continue to Target Older Adults During Ongoing Crises
DALLAS—Fraud against the senior population continues to grow as the United States closes in on a second year of living in global pandemic conditions. Each year, millions of older Americans are at risk of being swindled out of millions of dollars if they become targets of romance scams, impacted by influential imposters, or persuaded to participate in reshipping rackets. Criminals are taking advantage of loneliness and isolation in our senior population to conduct sophisticated, targeted crime sprees. The FBI Dallas Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Eastern and Northern Districts of Texas are releasing a new Public Service Announcement to help spot and stop scams that affect our seniors.
In June 2021, the first-ever Elder Fraud Report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was released to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Total financial loss for 2020 was reported at $1 billion for victims over the age of 60, comprising nearly a third of total losses. This is a staggering increase of approximately $300 million in losses to victims over 60 in 2019. Overall, Texas ranks third in the nation for reported victims and reported losses to seniors—at more than $69 million
Companionship is a core human need, and more people than ever are willing to meet someone online. According to the analysis of FBI investigations, criminals target individuals in every demographic hoping to establish trust which will allow them access to their target’s finances. Last year in North Texas alone, more than 200 individuals over the age of 60 reported losing more than $7 million to romance fraud schemes.
Once a criminal has convinced a victim to send them money, they need an often-unwitting person to act as an intermediary to first receive the funds and then send the proceeds to the fraudster. This activity describes a “money mule” and it is one of the most prevalent ways criminals use our seniors. Learn more about why criminals add layers of accounts and people between themselves and their victims.
The Dallas FBI and our law enforcement and private sector partners care about the safety and well-being of the senior population. If you’ve been coerced into sending money to an individual you’ve never met in person, or know someone who has, contact your financial institution right away and report the incident to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Learn more about protection from scammers.
“Reporting scams and frauds quickly is critical,” said Dallas FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jose A. Perez. “We work closely with our law enforcement and industry partners to hold criminals accountable for high-dollar fraud losses that leave our senior population and their future generations in financial ruin and despair.”