Report: Massachusetts seniors lost $70 million to fraud in one year

A new report says Massachusetts residents over the age of 60 lost more than $70 million to fraud in 2022.

The cybersecurity website VPNPro analyzed 2022 fraud data from the FBI and FTC and found Massachusetts had a total of 1,653 fraud victims over the age of 60 with an average loss of $42,408 lost per victim.

“The number of home [computers], especially ones with older users, that don’t have anti-virus [software] is significant,” said Blue Mantis cybersecurity consultant Rob Fitzgerald. [Seniors] might ask, ‘Why would they want me?’ Well, they want you for your 401k, real estate trust or social security check.”

The company found people aged 60 and older were 517 percent more likely to be victims of an online tech support scam than those aged between 18 and 59. The most successful types of fraud involved investment scams, business imposter scams and romance scams, VPNPro found.

“Analyzing data on elderly fraud victims and losses by state can help policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and advocacy groups better understand the underlying factors contributing to financial exploitation of the elderly. It can also inform targeted interventions and resource allocation to mitigate the impact of fraud and protect vulnerable individuals,” said VPNPro Technical Writer Šarūnas Karbauskas in a news release.

Seniors across the country lost an estimated $564 million to online fraud in 2022, compared with $90 million to text scams, VPNPro found. Massachusetts ranked 27th in the country for the number of senior fraud victims per capita, with around 95 victims for every 100,000 senior residents.

Better Business Bureau spokesperson Paula Fleming said it’s important for grown children to have conversations with parents about preventing fraud.

“Sit down and show them these scams are happening. Give them examples. Tell them to not provide personal or financial information over the phone.”

The BBB has a section on its website dedicated to helping older adults avoid scams, including a list of red flags they should

  • “Free,” “low cost,” or “buy one, get one” deal
  • Request for unusual payment types (i.e. prepaid debit cards or wired funds)
  • Claims that you only pay postage or administrative fees
  • Pressure to act now and/or aggressive tones
  • Deals that must be secured with a credit card or bank account information
  • Sure-fire investment opportunities
  • Charities that send 100% of your donation directly to the victims

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