The vast majority of elder fraud cases in the US go unreported. Our research team set out to uncover the true cost of elder fraud in the US by analyzing and extrapolating data from government reports and registries.

Comparitech estimates 5 million cases of elder fraud occur in the US annually resulting in $27.4 billion in losses.

Elder fraud, also called elder financial abuse or elder financial exploitation, is defined as the misappropriation or abuse of financial control in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, resulting in harm to the elderly victim.

More than 200,000 scams and financial abuse cases targeting the elderly are reported to authorities every year, and most experts agree that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our estimates show $1.17 billion in damages are reported to authorities, but the real figure likely dwarfs that amount when factoring in unreported elder fraud.

To calculate the full scope of the problem, Comparitech aggregated data from multiple studies on elder fraud in every US state, including the number of reports to authorities and average loss per case. We then used those numbers to estimate the total number of cases and total damages in each state, adjusted for the proportion of unreported cases.

Due to a lack of accurate reporting in every state, we’ve used averages from other states to fill in the gaps for the number of cases reported and the dollar amounts lost. You can find more about how we conducted our research in the methodology section. Although not definitive, this exploratory study examines the potential cost and prevalence of elder abuse based on estimations, statistics, and hypotheses. It is an exploratory study to highlight the need for further research in this area.

Key findings

Only 1 in 23.5 incidents of elder fraud are reported to authorities, according to a 2011 report from the New York City Department for the Aging and Cornell University. Here are some of the key findings at a national level, based on that figure:

  • 1 in 10 elderly people in the US fell victim to elder fraud in the last year
  • More than 5 million incidents of elder fraud occur every year in total
  • The average loss per case reported to Adult Protective Services is $2,415
  • In total, losses due to elder fraud total $27.4 billion each year
  • 38% of fraud cases target the elderly
  • Debit cards were the most common product involved with elder fraud cases (32.9%), followed by credit cards (11.6%) and bank deposit accounts (10%)

Given the exponential rise of phone scams over the past few years, we surmise that the ratio of unreported to reported cases could well be much higher. Phone scams often target the elderly.

US states with highest rates of elder fraud

Nevada

Seniors in Nevada lose an estimated $742 million to elder fraud per year, affecting more than one-third of the elderly population. We estimate the number of elder fraud cases at just under 9,500.

According to a 2017/18 Elder Abuse Report, the most common perpetrator was a child (21.9%), followed by another relative (11%) and service provider or spouse/significant other (both 8.32%).

Minnesota

29 percent of Minnesota seniors are impacted by elder fraud per year, losing an estimated $988 million to the crime. The total estimated number of cases is just shy of 15,000.

Minnesota has 1.2 million adults aged 60+.

South Dakota

21 percent of South Dakota seniors are estimated to have lost a total of $165 million in the last year. That’s about 42,000 cases in total.

Of the 1,711 against victims aged 60+, according to state crime stats, larceny leads the way (49.21%), followed by impersonation (14.14%), intimidation (8.65%), false pretenses (8.01%), and counterfeiting/forgery (6.90%).

Tennessee

Tennessee seniors lost approximately $715 million in the past year to an estimated 226,000 elder fraud cases. About 21 percent of the state’s elderly population was impacted.

Aside from all other larceny crimes (43.60%), the top crimes were false pretenses (15.32%), credit card/ATM fraud (12.01%), counterfeiting/forgery (8.98%), and intimidation (11.05%). With regards to the cases of intimidation, the majority of perpetrators were family members (34.79%) or acquaintances (34.99%).

Virginia

More than one in five Virginia seniors fell victim to elder fraud in the past year. An estimated $1 billion was stolen across some 265,000 cases.

Larceny is the most common form of elder fraud in the state (42.05%), followed by false pretenses (24.40%), credit card/ATM fraud (11.88%) and impersonation (8.41%). Acquaintances were the most common perpetrators in intimidation cases.

Top US states for elder fraud in total losses

California

The most populous state in the nation loses the most money to elder fraud, according to our estimates. California lost nearly $2.4 billion to elder financial exploitation, impacting almost 3 percent of the elderly population. That’s about 165,000 cases in total.

California is home to 5.5 million elderly people.

Florida

As expected in the state with the highest percentage of senior citizens, Florida has the highest estimated number of elder fraud reports, over half a million in total. That’s 9.35 percent of elderly people. Losses amount to $2 billion in a year.

Texas

Another big state, Texas lost almost $1.6 billion to elder fraud in the last year. 9.67 percent of elderly people in the state fell victim, for an estimated 355,040 incidents in all.

Arizona

Comparitech estimates Arizona loses $1.5 billion to nearly 72,000 cases of elder fraud each year. About 4.5% of elderly Arizonians are victims, according to estimates. Arizona Adult Protective Services says the average amount lost per case is $19,258, far higher than the national average.

For all cases of abuse—not just financial exploitation—the relationship to the perpetrator was a family member (41.57%), caregiver (29.32%), friend/neighbor (9.91%) or other (19.20%), according to the state’s Adult Protective Services.

Of the 1,396 members in the state abuse registry, 881 (63.11%) relate to exploitation. In 2018, 285 people were added onto the list for exploitation. Of these, 161 (56.49%) of cases related to misappropriation of funds and 74 (25.96%) to abuse of Power of Attorney (or guardianship and other trusted positions). This means when it comes to the relationship to the perpetrator, nearly 30% were trustees (PoAs, joint account holders, etc). 24.56% of abusers were caregivers.

Georgia

$1.5 billion was lost to elder fraud in Georgia in the last year, affecting almost 11 percent of the senior population. That’s almost 154,000 elder fraud cases in total.

Elder fraud report figures, amounts lost and estimates by state

StateTotal # of Seniors in the StateTotal # of reportsTotal LostEstimated # of Reports (1 in 23.5 Reported)Estimated Loss (1 in 23.5 reported)Elder Fraud RateEstimated Elder fraud Rate (1 in 23.5 Reported)
Alabama803,2163,265*$14,645,228.90*76,725$344,162,879.110.41%9.55%
Alaska128,233536*$2,841,340.43*12,595$66,771,500.030.42%9.82%
Arizona1,614,2803,057$63,680,226.7271,847$1,496,485,327.920.19%4.45%
Arkansas684,357824$5,084,723.10*19,372$119,490,992.850.12%2.83%
California5,504,8177,006$101,489,278.50*164,633$2,384,998,044.750.13%2.99%
Colorado1,110,3585,622$35,081,583.57132,109$824,417,213.900.51%11.90%
Connecticut844,985926$6,643,241.10*21,753$156,116,165.850.11%2.57%
Delaware2,40,0081,789*$32,184,827.03*42,034$756,343,435.090.75%17.51%
Florida5,558,68922,126*$85,309,625.86*519,954$2,004,776,207.670.40%9.35%
Georgia1,401,8506,537*$54,248,375.56*153,620$1,274,836,825.640.47%10.96%
Hawaii342,034238$4,241,481.90*5,601$99,674,824.650.07%1.64%
Idaho366,6021,622$4,875,694.9238,117$114,578,830.620.44%10.40%
Illinois2,747,7777,536$33,501,541.50*177,104$787,286,225.250.27%6.45%
Indiana1,445,2242,805$14,954,984.40*65,925$351,442,133.400.19%4.56%
Iowa724,8771,545$7,990,788.30*36,308$187,783,525.050.21%5.01%
Kansas632,3962,053$8,729,590.20*48,238$205,145,369.700.32%7.63%
Kentucky989,5262,462$7,784,300.0057,865$182,931,050.000.25%5.85%
Louisiana993,4112,256$8,012,077.50*53,008$188,283,821.250.23%5.34%
Maine368,460158$6,318,585.003,705$148,486,747.500.04%1.01%
Maryland1,284,7705,219*$23,328,598.93*122,657$548,222,074.800.41%9.55%
Massachusetts1,107,8247,628$28,742,535.90*179,250$675,449,593.650.69%16.18%
Michigan2,348,2419,187*$30,558,484.65*215,886$718,124,389.320.39%9.19%
Minnesota1,215,08714,884$42,051,987.60*349,774$988,221,708.601.22%28.79%
Mississippi651,4982,547*$8,419,139.85*59,855$197,849,786.560.39%9.19%
Missouri1,405,8799,920$34,046,925.90*233,128$800,102,758.650.71%16.58%
Montana190,2161,676$5,001,583.80*39,386$117,537,219.300.88%20.71%
Nebraska412,5341,668$11,529,909.60*39,198$270,952,875.600.40%9.50%
Nevada634,0099,474$31,591,560.00*222,639$742,401,660.001.49%35.12%
New Hampshire236,3211,731$5,917,642.80*40,671$139,064,605.800.73%17.21%
New Jersey1,994,049958$12,739,239.00*22,513$299,372,116.500.05%1.13%
New Mexico485,9691,460$6,069,114.00*34,310$142,624,179.000.30%7.06%
New York4,418,2882,243$41,198,122.0052,703$968,155,867.000.05%1.19%
North Carolina2,259,0645,934$51,274,400.00139,449$1,204,948,400.000.26%6.17%
North Dakota112,669896$2,947,326.30*21,048$69,262,168.050.79%18.68%
Ohio2,727,1763,749$34,292,011.50*88,102$805,862,270.250.14%3.23%
Oklahoma838,3061,287$6,414,099.90*30,245$150,731,347.650.15%3.61%
Oregon708,8681,499$9,235,026.60*35,219$217,023,125.100.21%4.97%
Pennsylvania2,276,5438,156$50,868,577.50*191,658$1,195,411,571.250.36%8.42%
Rhode Island249,978302$5,104,000.007,089$119,944,000.000.12%2.84%
South Carolina1,199,5781,789$12,691,747.80*42,049$298,256,073.300.15%3.51%
South Dakota198,9841,795$7,005,378.30*42,183$164,626,390.050.90%21.20%
Tennessee1,070,4009,628$30,437,850.60*226,258$715,289,489.100.90%21.14%
Texas3,465,49214,257$67,173,173.10*335,040$1,578,569,567.850.41%9.67%
Utah481,8192,181$10,307,200.0051,261$242,219,200.000.45%10.64%
Vermont165,218895$2,193,797.0021,040$51,554,229.500.54%12.73%
Virginia1,271,60411,267$45,262,771.30264,775$1,063,675,125.550.89%20.82%
Washington1,589,0136,095$26,079,791.40*143,240$612,875,097.900.38%9.01%
West Virginia350,5721,447*$7,139,198.90*34,001$167,771,174.060.41%9.70%
Wisconsin1,341,7041,838$11,643,048.30*43,185$273,611,635.050.14%3.22%
Wyoming128,356504*$1,725,269.34*11,838$40,543,829.440.39%9.22%
*Due to lack of reports in some states, we've used averages for the number of cases reported and/or the dollar amounts lost. See the methodology section for more information.

Methodology

Notes and limitations

  • Some reports give the overall figures for financial exploitation and don’t break it down by age group. They often give the percentages of age groups so you can take this to get a figure for exploitation. However, looking at other reports that include the figures per age group, the majority of exploitation cases occur in the elderly group.
  • If we have figures for the abuse registry and APS reports, it’s likely that some of these cases will appear on both. This is the same for Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs. However, cases reported by APS and LTCO are separate in most cases.
  • Some reports from Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs will include exploitation with neglect and abuse so it’s difficult to differentiate how many relate to exploitation.
  • Often there is quite a significant difference between the number of cases reported and the number substantiated. When you look at APS caseworker numbers and time, this could be an indication as to why only a small percentage are investigated. This article shows how caseworkers are overwhelmed by reports of elder abuse.
  • Some states refer to “elders” as 60+ while others deem this category 65+. The number of elderly people per state has been calculated based on the state’s classification of “elderly.”
  • Larceny is included in some exploitation reports.
  • Some data was not available for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico

Sourcing elder fraud data

Elder fraud data was pulled from multiple sources in each state, including:

  • Adult Protective Services (APS)
  • Long-term Care Ombudsmen (LTCO)
  • Social Services and Health Services
  • Crime Reports
  • Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) from the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)

40 out of 50 states publish the number of elder financial exploitation cases reported to authorities each year, most of which come from Adult Protective Services. The remaining 10 either do not publish this data, do not distinguish between age groups, or do not distinguish between financial exploitation other types of elder abuse. So for the remaining 10 states, we multiplied the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to their total elderly populations to get an estimated number of reported cases.

Only 11 out of 50 states publish the average dollar amount lost per elder fraud case. We averaged these figures to get an estimated dollar amount lost for the remaining 39 states: $2,415.

Figures based on SAR reports were calculated separately and added to the estimates from APS and other state agency reports. FinCEN’s SAR reports are limited to those filed by financial institutions and normally only include cases in which more than $5,000 was stolen. A 2019 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study states less than one-third of these cases are reported to Adult Protective Services and the other state agencies listed above, and that the average dollar amount lost per case is $34,200 across all 50 states.

Based on that, two-thirds of the number of SAR reports for each state are added to the number of elder fraud reports that come from the APS and other state agencies.

Likewise, for each state, we multiplied the number of SAR reports by the average dollar amount lost ($34,200) to get a dollar amount lost per state. Two-thirds of this is then added to the loss figures calculated from APS reports.

Factoring in unreported elder fraud

A number of studies show the vast majority of elder fraud cases go unreported:

  • A National Center on Elder Abuse study (PDF) published in 1998 found only 16% of cases of elder abuse were reported to authorities
  • A 2011 report, Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study (PDF), estimates only one in 23.5 elder abuse cases is reported
  • Several government sources put the figure at 1 in 25 cases reported

For our final estimates, we multiplied the number of reported cases and loss amounts by 23.5 based on the Under the radar study. We chose this number because it is the most recent and well-substantiated. It has been used as evidence in Congressional Testimony (PDF) and is widely cited by experts.

You can view the final data set here.

Elder fraud by US State: Stats and sources

Alabama

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in Alabama to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step.

Alaska

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in Alaska to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step

Arizona

  • APS Report suggests 3,748 reports of financial exploitation in FY 2017/18, 73% of all cases related to adults aged 60+ = 2,736.
  • APS Abuse Registry shows $5,488,607.44 lost over 285 cases (these were added to registry in 2018 – not necessarily committed then). This gives an average of $19,258.27 per case. (These cases related to ALL vulnerable adults).

Arkansas

  • DHS Report – 555 cases of financial exploitation, 43 substantiated.
  • LTCO Report – 115 complaints regarding financial and property cases and 57 of exploitation = 172 in total.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figures mentioned above.

California

  • APS Report – 3,491 cases of financial exploitation cases relating to the elderly (65+).
  • LTCO Report – 854 cases regarding finances.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figures mentioned above.

Colorado

  • APS Report – 5,645 cases of financial exploitation, 92% of all cases related to adults aged 60+ (5,193).
    • Approximate loss across substantiated cases was $22.2 million = $8,806.03 per case.
    • 25% of all abuse committed by the victims’ children, followed by 16% who were friends, acquaintances, or neighbors.
  • Crime Stats also indicate that 8,114 financial crimes were carried out on those aged 65+ (other types of larceny accounted for 3,937 cases). It is reasonable to assume some of the APS cases will have been referred to law enforcement.

Connecticut

  • Elder Protective Services Report – 787 cases of financial exploitation investigated.
  • LTCO Report – 3,044 complaints but no specifics on what these related to (not used in statistics).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figures mentioned above.

Delaware

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in Delaware to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step.

Florida

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in Florida to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step.

Georgia

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in Georgia to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step.

Hawaii

  • HS Report – 148 reports of financial exploitation (17% of cases relate to people under 60) = 123.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Idaho

  • Crime Statistics – Fraud ($3,101,097.60), embezzlement ($53,250), forgery ($144,814) and extortion/blackmail ($3,333.32). Each fraud case averaged a loss of $2,180.80 with just $92.83 recovered, while each embezzlement case averaged a loss of $8,875 with just $276.32 recovered.
    • 1,576 victims (60+) – 37.72% of cases related to false pretenses and 33.50% to credit card/ATM fraud.

Illinois

  • APS Report – 8,604 reports of financial exploitation, 82% related to adults aged 60+ = 7,055.
    • 37% of abusers in all cases were the victims’ children, 24% were relatives.
    • 45% of leading abuse indicators (for all cases) were inappropriate/unusual bank activities, 34% were abuser controls cash, and 17% were theft.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Indiana

  • APS Report – 2,548 cases of exploitation investigated (no break down for victims’ ages).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Iowa

  • Dependent Adult Abuse Statistical Report – 1,316 allegations of financial exploitation, 81 founded (no break down for victims’ ages). Jan-June and July-Dec.
  • LTCO Report – 21 cases of abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation, and 74 cases relating to financial, property stolen, missing or lost (no break down for victims’ ages).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figures mentioned above.

Kansas

  • Attorney General Report – 1,029 reports of exploitation (220 substantiated). Used this as APS reports included within this. (No break down for victims’ ages).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Kentucky

  • Health and Family Services Report – APS launched 2,077 investigations into exploitation and other reports received (74 complaints of exploitation/patient funds, 7 complaints of global fraud, 86 complaints of provider fraud, 7 complaints of recipient fraud, and 4 complaints of other fraud = 178). Totals 2,255.
  • Attorney General Report – Returned $1,900 a day to elderly Kentuckians, amounting to over $1.1 million. (Over 5,500 seniors have asked for help).

Louisiana

  • Louisiana Legislative Auditor Report – Reviewed framework and found 2,175 cases of financial exploitation across agencies. Also noted that a lot of cases aren’t being reported or investigated. (No break down for victims’ ages).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Maine

  • Report into Financial Exploitation of Elderly People in Maine – 109 cases of financial exploitation reported across APS and LSE. The total amount lost across these cases was $4,654,185, meaning the average case lost $42,698.94.
    • Family members are the highest perpetrators with children being the most common family member to commit financial exploitation. Money/Cash Diversion or Houses were the common factors involved.

Maryland

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in Maryland to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step.

Massachusetts

  • Elder Office of Elder Affairs Report – 1,314 cases of financial exploitation reported – not included as cases could be included within crime stats.
  • Crime Stats – 7,303 cases involving finances/theft of the elderly. Across all these crimes, acquaintances were the most common perpetrators. 1,540 were victims of false pretense/swindle/confidence games, 825 were victims of impersonation and 620 were victims of ATM/credit card fraud (to name the highest).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Michigan

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in Michigan to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step.

Minnesota

  • APS Report – 3,130 financial abuse (fiduciary) allegations received and 11,245 non-fiduciary allegations, totaling 14,375.
  • LTCO Report – 127 reports of abuse, gross neglect, exploitation (financial), and 190 reports regarding finances/personal property = 317.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figures mentioned above.

Mississippi

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in Mississippi to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step.

Missouri

  • Division of Senior and Disability Services – Received 50,540 allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, 19% of these related to financial exploitation (9,603). (No break down for victims’ ages).
    • Most common perpetrator was an adult child (29%).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Montana

  • Crime Stats – 1,646 cases reported, the top being other types of larceny (64%), followed by false pretenses (12.76%) and counterfeiting/forgery (9.72%). In cases of intimidation, family members were the most common perpetrators.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Nebraska

  • APS Report – 2,045 allegations of financial exploitation, 82 were substantiated and 57 of these related to adults aged 60+. Based on this % (70 approx.), 1,432 reports related to 60+.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Nevada

  • Elder Abuse Report – 411 substantiated cases, 1,794 unsubstantiated cases. Of all types of abuse, the most common perpetrator was a child (21.9%), followed by another relative (11%) and service provider or spouse/significant other (both 8.32%) – not used for overall figures as could be included in crime stats.
  • Crime Stats – 9,200 cases of exploitation against older persons (aged 60+). Children were the most common perpetrators here, too.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figures mentioned above.

New Hampshire

  • Crime Stats – 1,676 reported with the top being false pretenses (27.51%) and other types of larceny (27.27%). This was followed by credit card/ATM fraud (14.08%) and impersonation (12.11%). Of the intimidation cases, the most common perpetrator (45.63%) was an acquaintance.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

New Jersey

  • LTCO Report – 603 cases reported, 293 involved financial exploitation within the family and 126 of these involved power of attorney abuse and issues with guardianship and other people in positions of trust. Figures are broken down further here: https://www.nj.gov/ooie/div-assets/docs/reports/2017NJStateOmbudsmanReport.pdf (No break down for victims’ ages).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

New Mexico

  • Elder Abuse Report – 11,500 reports of elder abuse per year, 12% relate to exploitation (1,380). Notes that the majority of cases of financial exploitation are carried out by a family member or someone who’s close to the family. It can be driven by competition between family members who are vying for control over resources or inheritance. Occasionally, spouses are involved – but this is less likely.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

New York

  • Cost of Financial Exploitation Report – 1,628 cases reported (60+). Documented losses are $20,176,522.47 (estimate – $88,329,053.34). Of the 32 cases related to real estate, the average victim lost $5,660,112 (estimate – $23,987,977). Also suggests that with estimates the amount lost by victims over a 12-month period could range from $352 million to $1.5 billion.
    • Family members were found to be the perpetrators in 67% of verified cases, 36% (in total) were adult children. 20% of perpetrators were friends or non-relatives.
    • 50% of victims in verified cases were largely unaware of their mistreatment.
    • Misappropriation of funds was the most common method of exploitation (26%), followed by larceny (16%), coercion (15%), power of attorney abuse (15%), and false pretense (14%).

North Carolina

  • NC Department of Justice Report – 4,035 complaints to the Consumer Protection Division about elder fraud or scams that target elderly people. $2.3 million went to refund these victims.
  • LTCO Report – 467 reports relating to finances.

North Dakota

  • Crime Stats – 871 cases (65+). Aside from other types of larceny (which account for 54.08% of the crimes), the top crime was false pretenses (12.97%), followed by impersonation (7.12%) and credit card/ATM fraud (6.66%). In cases of intimidation, the most common perpetrator was an acquaintance or family member.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Ohio

  • APS Report – 2,996 reports of financial exploitation, 2,955 related to adults aged 60+.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Oklahoma

  • DHS Report – 1,183 reports (no break down for victims’ ages).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Oregon

  • DHS Report – 1,322 reports (no break down for victims’ ages).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Pennsylvania

  • Crime Stats – 416 were victims of forgery/counterfeiting, 6,670 were victims of fraud, and 89 were victims of embezzlement. This totals 7,175.
  • APS Report – 8,083 reports of financial exploitation – not used in overall figures as some will have been reported as crimes.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figures mentioned above.

Rhode Island

  • Attorney General Report – Investigated 48 cases and opened 107 criminal cases. 68 cases were disposed of with senior victims receiving $88,000 in restitution (this amounts to $1,294.12 per victim).

South Carolina

  • Social Services Report – 1,381 reports of exploitation were accepted for assessment, 757 of these were accepted for investigation, 142 were substantiated and 118 of these were referred to law enforcement (no break down for victims’ ages).
  • LTCO Report – 145 cases of exploitation received (no break down for victims’ ages).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figures mentioned above.

South Dakota

  • Crime Stats – 1,711 against victims aged 60+ with the top being other larceny (49.21%), followed by impersonation (14.14%), intimidation (8.65%), false pretenses (8.01%), and counterfeiting/forgery (6.90%).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Tennessee

  • Crime Stats – 9,402 crimes against adults aged 65+. Aside from all other larceny crimes (43.60%), the top crimes were false pretenses (15.32%), credit card/ATM fraud (12.01%), counterfeiting/forgery (8.98%), and intimidation (11.05%). With regards to the cases of intimidation, the majority of perpetrators were family members (34.79%) or acquaintances (34.99%).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Texas

  • APS Report – Ages 65+. 13,227 allegations of exploitation.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Utah

  • Human Services Report – Ages 60+. APS investigated 2,613 cases of financial exploitation and 72% of all victims in all abuse cases over 60 which would mean 1,881. LTCO dealt with 65 complaints regarding abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and 86 complaints regarding finances/property (no break down for victims’ ages).
  • Utah Cost of Financial Exploitation – Although several years old, some cost figures. In 2009, $51,506,100 was lost by the government, businesses, and seniors. Also suggests $1,000,000 per week could have been lost to senior citizens (used 1 in 10 stat). Children were the most common perpetrators (47%).

Vermont

  • Crime Stats – 884 crimes people aged 60+. Total lost to these crimes was $1,806,197, making the average loss per crime, $2,043.21. According to the report, victims of embezzlement lost the highest amount per crime ($67,347) with victims of wire fraud also losing $6,487 on average and victims of false pretense crimes losing $4,930 on average. Acquaintances were the most common perpetrators in cases of intimidation.

Virginia

  • Crime Statistics – Ages 65+ – 10,541 cases of financial crimes reported, other larceny is the highest (42.05%), followed by false pretenses (24.40%), credit card/ATM fraud (11.88%), and impersonation (8.41%). Acquaintances were the most common perpetrators in intimidation cases.
  • Cost of Crimes – Breakdown of cost of crimes so worked out the average cost per case to then gain an understanding of the amount lost to people over 65. Total loss of $20,433,571.30 (across the crimes covered – doesn’t include intimidation and counterfeiting). This means the average case lost $2,112.87 (9,671 crimes when excluding intimidation and counterfeiting).

Washington

  • Crime Stats – 5,738 – The most common crime reported was swindle/con games (30%), followed by impersonation (24.8%), credit card/ ATM fraud (24.7%), and identity theft (18%).
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

West Virginia

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in West Virginia to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step.

Wisconsin

  • APS Report – 1,611 reports of financial exploitation. 19.5% of perpetrators were daughters of the victim and 19.3% were sons (for all types of abuse). 11.2% of abusers had power of attorney over the victim’s finances.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the report figure mentioned above.

Wyoming

  • No specific reports on elder fraud and no specific crime statistics.
  • Report figures achieved by multiplying the average reporting rate from all other states (0.0038 reports per senior) to the total elderly population in Wyoming to get an estimated number of reported cases.
  • $ figures achieved by taking the average dollar amount lost per case in the 11 states where these figures are published ($2,415) before multiplying by the estimated figure achieved in the first step.

Other sources:

State age statistics: https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/searchresults.xhtml?refresh=t#none

FinCEN SAR statistics: https://www.fincen.gov/reports/sar-stats

Tips for preventing elder fraud

Despite the worrying prevalence of elder financial exploitation, there are some simple steps seniors and their friends, caregivers, and relatives can take to prevent fraudulent activities. We’ve listed 10 of these below:

  • Plan ahead to ensure your assets are fully protected and your wishes will be followed. You might want to talk to a financial advisor or an attorney to find the best options for you.
  • Always shred bank statements and receipts as well as unused credit cards before you throw them away.
  • Never discuss your financial information with anyone you don’t know or trust. This includes giving someone your bank details, Social Security Number, and any other financial information over the phone.
  • Order a copy of your credit report every year to make sure it’s accurate and that there aren’t any accounts on there that you don’t recognize. You could also sign up for identity theft protection so professionals are constantly monitoring your accounts for suspicious activities.
  • Thoroughly check credentials and references before you hire anyone and don’t give workers access to your financial information. For example, you may want to lock up your account statements, checkbook, and other sensitive documents while others are in your home.
  • Look out for charity fraud hoaxes by doing thorough research into the charity, not responding to solicitations for donations, not sending any of your bank details or mailing cash, and discussing the charity with your friends and family first.
  • Never pay taxes or fees to collect lottery “winnings” or sweepstakes.
  • Pay for things using your debit or credit card so you have a paper trail of all the transactions you’ve made.
  • Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right – tell someone. And if you do feel threatened or intimidated (or you’re concerned for an elderly person you know), contact your local Adult Protective Service.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to say “no.” This is your money and you’re entitled to say how you want to use it.