CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Scammers stole $3.4 billion from older Americans last year

May 2, 2024, 6:36 AM | Updated: 11:54 am

Older Americans being scammed...

FILE - An FBI seal is seen on a wall on Aug. 10, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. The FBI says scammers stole more than $3.4 billion from older Americans last year. An FBI report released Tuesday shows a rise in losses through increasingly sophisticated tactics to trick the vulnerable into giving up their life savings. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scammers stole more than $3.4 billion from older Americans last year, according to an FBI report released Tuesday that shows a rise in losses through increasingly sophisticated criminal tactics to trick the vulnerable into giving up their life savings.

Losses from scams reported by Americans over the age of 60 last year were up 11% over the year before, according to the FBI’s report. Investigators are warning of a rise in brazen schemes to drain bank accounts that involve sending couriers in person to collect cash or gold from victims.

“It can be a devastating impact to older Americans who lack the ability to go out and make money,” said Deputy Assistant Director James Barnacle of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “People lose all their money. Some people become destitute.”

The FBI received more than 100,000 complaints by victims of scams over the age of 60 last year, with nearly 6,000 people losing more than $100,000. It follows a sharp rise in reported losses by older Americans in the two years after the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, when people were stuck at home and easier for scammers to reach over the phone.

Barnacle said investigators are seeing organized, transnational criminal enterprises targeting older Americans through a variety of schemes, like romance scams and investment frauds.

The most commonly reported fraud among older adults last year was tech support scams, in which criminals pose over the phone as technical or customer service representatives. In one such scam authorities say is rising in popularity, criminals impersonate technology, banking and government officials to convince victims that foreign hackers have infiltrated their bank accounts and instruct them that to protect their money they should move it to a new account — one secretly controlled by the scammers.

Federal investigators saw an uptick between May and December of scammers using live couriers to take money from victims duped into believing their accounts had been compromised, according to the FBI. In those cases, scammers tell victims that their bank accounts have been hacked and that they need to liquidate their assets into cash or buy gold or other precious metals to protect their funds. Then the fraudsters arrange for a courier to pick it up in person.

“A lot of the the fraud schemes are asking victims to send money via a wire transfer, or a cryptocurrency transfer. When the victim is reluctant to do that, they’re given an alternative,” Barnacle said. “And so the bad guy will use courier services.”

Earlier this month, an 81-year-old Ohio man fatally shot an Uber driver he thought was trying to rob him after receiving scam phone calls, according to authorities.

The man had been receiving calls from someone pretending to be an officer from the local court who demanded money. The Uber driver had been told to retrieve a package from the man’s home, a request authorities say was possibly made by the same scam caller or an accomplice.

The staggering losses to older Americans are likely an undercount. Only about half of the more than 880,000 complaints reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center last year included information on the age of the victim.
___
This story has been corrected to show the FBI’s center is the Internet Crime Complaint Center, not the Internet Crime Compliance Center.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

Multiple people have been taken into custody following an incident involving police and a SWAT team...

Devin Oldroyd

Police and SWAT responding to incident in South Salt Lake

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — Multiple people have been taken into custody following an incident involving police and a SWAT team in South Salt Lake. The South Salt Lake Police Department shared on its Facebook account that there was a “large gathering” early Monday morning involving shots fired. This happened in the area of 3600 […]

46 minutes ago

A man was taken into custody Sunday after he allegedly assaulted random people during Sunday servic...

Mark Jones, KSLTV.com

Man taken into custody for alleged assaults at Cathedral of the Madeleine

A man was taken into custody Sunday after he allegedly assaulted random people during Sunday service at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

2 hours ago

A Layton man charged this month with brutally killing his father now faces an additional criminal c...

Collin Leonard, KSL.COM

Layton man charged with killing his father now charged with threatening puppy owner

A Layton man charged this month with killing his father now faces an additional criminal charge after he allegedly threatened another man.

4 hours ago

A man drowned while swimming with his two children in Taylorsville Sunday afternoon. Police are inv...

Devin Oldroyd

Taylorsville man drowns in apartment complex pool

A man drowned while swimming with his two children in Taylorsville Sunday afternoon. Police are investigating.

15 hours ago

Christopher "Topher Owens and "Drew" Bull...

Mark Jones, KSL TV

Man accused in the killing of two missing men earlier this year is facing additional charges

A man accused of killing two men missing from Blanding in San Juan County earlier this year is facing additional charges.

18 hours ago

Hurricane Valley Fire & Rescue responded to a crashed paraglider Sunday morning. The paraglider was...

Devin Oldroyd

Hurricane Valley Fire & Rescue respond to crashed paraglider Sunday

Hurricane Valley Fire & Rescue responded to a crashed paraglider Sunday morning. The paraglider was LifeFlighted to the hospital.

20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Scammers stole $3.4 billion from older Americans last year