FBI Philadelphia
Public Affairs Specialist Sofia Kettler
May 3, 2024

FBI Philadelphia Warns Elder Fraud Continues to Be a Growing Problem

The FBI has released the annual Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) Elder Fraud report. This annual publication provides insights and statistics into incidents of elder fraud reported to the IC3. The goal of this report is to inform the public of the scams impacting the country and prevent further victimization.

Across the nation, tech support fraud was the most reported scheme impacting older Americans. In 2023, the FBI received over 17,600 complaints of this scam. In tech support schemes, criminals pose as tech support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues in order to gain remote access to victims’ devices and their sensitive information.

In 2023 complaints of investment fraud resulted in the most reported losses, with about $1.2 billion in losses. Investment fraud schemes involve complex financial crimes, often characterized as low-risk investments with guaranteed returns. Investment fraud includes advanced fee frauds, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, market manipulation fraud, real estate investing, and trust-based investing such as cryptocurrency investment scams.

For Pennsylvania residents, the most reported scams included tech support, personal data breach, and non-payment/non-delivery scams. Investment scams resulted in the most in victim losses reported by Pennsylvania residents with over $50 million in reported losses. In total, Pennsylvania saw over 3,000 reported victims with reported losses over $118 million in 2023.

“Scammers continue to victimize older citizens, a uniquely vulnerable population who we often see suffer significant financial loss at the hands of these criminals,” said Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Philadelphia. “Our office remains committed to not only pursuing the criminals orchestrating these devastating schemes, but also educating our older population, and their loved ones, to bring awareness to this problem and prevent future victimization. We encourage anyone who thinks they or someone they know may be a victim of elder fraud to report it.”

Seniors are often targeted because they tend to be trusting and polite. They usually have financial savings, own a home, and have good credit- all of which makes them attractive to scammers. Additionally, seniors may be less inclined to report fraud, as they might not know how, or may be too ashamed of having been scammed.

Ways to protect yourself from various elder fraud schemes include:

  • Recognize scam attempts and end all communication with the perpetrator.
    • Search online for the contact information (name, e-mail, phone number, addresses) and the proposed offer. Other people have likely posted information online about individuals and businesses trying to run scams.
    • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action. Call the police immediately if you feel there is a danger to yourself or a loved one.
    • Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door services offers.
    • Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
    • Make sure all computer anti-virus and security software and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
    • Be careful what you download. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of e-mail attachments forwarded to you.

The report is published in hopes of bringing awareness of the crimes impacting those over 60 and reducing the stigma in reporting to prevent not only future victimization but also revictimization.

If you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, contact FBI Philadelphia at (215) 418-4000 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.

To find additional elder fraud resources, visit: https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/elder-fraud

To view the 2023 Elder Fraud Report: https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2023_IC3ElderFraudReport.pdf

To view the 2023 Pennsylvania Elder Fraud Report: https://www.ic3.gov/media/PDF/AnnualReport/2023EFState/StateReport.aspx?s=42