New Mexicans over the age of 60 lost more than $7 million in online frauds and scams last year, according to a special report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
IC3 said 837 of the state’s senior residents lost a total of $7,127,910 in 2020.
More than half of that amount—$3,880,981—was lost due to confidence fraud, most commonly known as romance scams.
COVID-19 restrictions forced more older people to use the Internet to shop and socialize, exposing them to scammers and criminals.
“The FBI and our partners work to investigate scams and crimes against older adults, but the keys are prevention and awareness,” said Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda of the Albuquerque FBI Division. “We urge our older residents as well as their families to educate themselves about online frauds and report any cases to the Internet Crime Complaint Center via ic3.gov.”
If you believe you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, contact the FBI at 505-889-1300 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, ic3.gov.
Why Older Adults are Vulnerable
As a growing part of the U.S. population, older people are an attractive target for fraudsters and scammers.
This demographic tends to have more financial stability, which makes them a target for criminals looking to make a quick profit. Older Americans may be more easily intimidated or lonely, making it harder for them to get help.
In a romance scam, criminals pose as interested romantic partners on social media or dating websites to capitalize on their elderly victims’ desire to find companions.
Learn More and Protect Your Loved Ones
Older people may know to be wary of physical crimes (like always locking their doors). But they may not have the same level of awareness to protect themselves against scams. That’s why families and caregivers should be aware of the risks and let people know how to report suspected crimes.
Visit the FBI elder fraud page to learn about common fraud schemes that target older people as well as practical tips on how to protect yourself or your loved ones from scammers.
FBI Elder Fraud page: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/elder-fraud
The 2020 IC3 Elder Fraud report can be found at: https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2020_IC3ElderFraudReport.pdf
More information on romance scams: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/romance-scams