Scams targeting the elderly are spreading.
According to Federal Trade Commission data, 26 percent of 2012 fraud complaints made to the agency were made by people age 60 and older (the highest of any age group). That figure represents an increase from 2008, when their rate stood at 10 percent, the lowest for any age group.
According to a 2010 survey by the Investor Protection Trust, an organization that promotes education about financial matters, 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older have been the victims of some kind of financial abuse.
Metropolitan Life Insurance reported that financial abuse cost seniors $2.9 billion or more in 2010 — a 12 percent increase in two years.
The problem is likely much worse than statistics reveal, because experts estimate that only 10 percent of fraud is reported. Many fraud victims are embarrassed to have been tricked or do not believe that reporting the crime will make any difference.
Law enforcement officials acknowledge that the sheer instance rate of fraud means that many cases cannot be investigated within the limited available resources.