On April 30 the FBI released its 2023 Elder Fraud Report (the “Report”).  The Report, which is available on our website here, reveals that elder fraud complaints to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (the “IC3”) rose 14% in 2023, with an associated loss increase of 11%.  Total losses reported to the IC3 by those over the age of 60 were in excess of $3.4 billion, with an average dollar loss of almost $34,000.  Colorado ranked number 7 in terms of complaints filed by individuals over the age of 60, while California, Florida and Texas ranked 1, 2 and 3 respectively.  The Report is published annually and provides statistics on fraud that explicitly targets money and cryptocurrency held by older Americans. 

The FBI notes the following key takeaways from the Report:

  1.  Elder Fraud is Expensive: As noted above, scams targeting individuals aged 60 and older caused over $3.4 billion in losses last year, with an average loss of $33,915 per senior and with nearly 6000 seniors losing in excess of $100,000. 
  • Older Americans Are Disproportionately Impacted by Scams & Fraud: The IC3 received complaints from over 101,000 people aged 60 or older – by far the demographic most impacted by internet scams (or at least the demographic most likely to report them), both in terms of the number of individuals impacted and the total dollar amount lost.  The 50-59 year old demographic suffered the next highest loss (almost $1.7 billion), while the 30-39 year old demographic reported the next highest number of individuals impacted (just over 88,000).  Perhaps predictably, the under 20 demographic reported the fewest complaints (18,174) with the least amount of loss. 
  • Tech Support Scams Were the Most Widely Reported Kind of Elder Fraud: Nearly 18,000 individuals aged 60 and older reported they were victims of various tech support scams.  Personal data breaches, romance, non-payment (where, e.g., the scammer convinces the victim to ship goods, but never pays for them) and investment scams were also popular, but nearly 40% of all scams impacting older individuals were tech-support scams according to the IC3.  Tech support scammers usually initiate contact through a phone call, text, email, or pop-up window purporting to be tech support from a legitimate vendor.  The scammer informs the victim his computer’s been compromised and then persuades the victim to pay to “fix” the nonexistent problem.  Alternatively, the scammer may tell the victim he’s getting a refund, gain remote access to the victim’s computer, purport to deposit the refund in the victim’s bank account and then convince the victim he accidentally refunded too much money.  He persuades the victim to send him the difference, but the scammer’s “refund” never clears his victim’s bank account.  The victim often makes payment through cash, cryptocurrency or gift cards and other difficult to trace (and often unprotected) means.   
  • Investment Scams Were the Most Costly Scams Reported: While more people over 60 fell victim to tech-support scams than to any other fraud, investment scams resulted in the greatest losses.  Individuals aged 60 or older lost over $1.2 billion to investment scams.  By contrast, that same demographic lost less than half that much to tech support scams.  Investment scams include Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, real estate investing and cryptocurrency scams, which are becoming increasingly popular.
  • The Largest Losses Among Complainants Over 60 are From Cryptocurrency Scams: In 2023, the IC3 received over 15,000 complaints from individuals over the age of 60 involving the use of cryptocurrency, with losses totaling over $1 billion.   Cryptocurrency investment scams account for approximately 64% of all cryptocurrency losses for this age group.  More often than not, according to the FBI, these schemes are socially-engineered and trust-enabled.  The fraud frequently begins with a confidence or romance scam in which the criminal earns the victim’s trust.  Eventually the scammer, who often professes an expertise or success in crypto investing, encourages the victim to invest increasingly greater amounts in cryptocurrency using fraudulent websites or apps controlled by the scammer and his associates. 

You can take appropriate measures to help protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to criminals who prey on seniors.  In a list available here, the FBI recommends a course of action that includes the following:

  • Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and force victims into immediate action. Resist the urge to act quickly. Call the police if you feel there is a danger to yourself or your loved ones.
  • Be wary of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door services offers.
  • Do not give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
  • Be sure all computer anti-virus security software and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
  • Do not hesitate to disconnect from the Internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Pop-ups are regularly used by fraudsters to spread malicious software. Enable pop-up blockers on your computer to avoid accidentally clicking on a popup.
  • Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know and be wary of e-mail attachments forwarded to you.
  • If you believe someone has gained access to your device or account, take precautions to protect your identity. Immediately contact your financial institutions to replace protections on your accounts and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.

Seniors can be popular targets for scammers.  Not only do criminals believe many elderly individuals have a ‘nest egg’ they can target, but many live a more solitary lifestyle and may be more susceptible to confidence scams seeking to earn their trust.  Combating the financial exploitation of seniors continues to be a priority for the FBI.   The FBI encourages anyone who is a victim of an elder fraud scam to report it to IC3.gov.


FBI Public Service Announcement: The FBI Warns of a Spike in Cryptocurrency Investment Schemes, 14 March 2023, https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2023/PSA230314

FBI Public Service Announcement: Increase in Tech Support Scams Targeting Older Adults and Directing Victims to Send Cash through Shipping Companies, 18 July 2023, https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2023/PSA230718

FBI Elder Fraud, in Focus, 30 April 2024 https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/elder-fraud-in-focus

FBI Elder Fraud Report 2023, 30 April 2024 https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2023_IC3ElderFraudReport.pdf

FBI Los Angeles: FBI Releases 2023 Elder Fraud Report with Tech Support Scams Generating the Most Complaints and Investment Scams Proving the Costliest, 2 May 2024. https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/losangeles/news/fbi-releases-2023-elder-fraud-report-with-tech-support-scams-generating-the-most-complaints-and-investment-scams-proving-the-costliest#:~:text=In%202023%2C%20the%20Internet%20Crime,in%20reported%20losses%20from%202022.