People 60 years and older made up 26 percent of all fraud complaints tracked by the Federal Trade Commission in 2012 -- the highest of any age group -- compared to just 10 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, a 2010 poll by the financial education group Investor Protection Trust found that one in every five Americans aged 65 or older has suffered financial abuse; and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. reports that financial abuse cost older Americans at least $2.9 billion in 2010, an increase of 12 percent in two years.
The growing population of seniors makes them more attractive targets, and cheap Internet phoning and rapid fund-transfer technology make fraud easier to conduct. Financial scams, which are expensive to pursue, often have little concrete evidence. Instead of pursuing individual investigations, some officials are trying to build databases of criminal networks or improve financial education for seniors.