Seniors Lost Nearly $1 Billion to Scams in 2020, New Fraud Report Shows

Seniors Lost Nearly $1 Billion to Scams in 2020, New Fraud Report Shows
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Fraud victims over 60 lost nearly $1 billion to scams last year, according to a recent federal report, up nearly $300 million from the previous year.


The average victim over 60 lost nearly $9,200, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which released its 2020 Elder Fraud Report in June. The largest jump came in tech-support scams, which rocketed past $116 million in 2020 from less than $38.5 million in 2019.


[DON’T BE SCAMMED: MOAA’s 3-Part Series]


The report does not break out military- or veteran-specific fraud types. MOAA has outlined recent reports on increased activity in those sectors, to include veteran “pension poaching,” VA home loan scams, and service-connected COVID-related fraud.


However, the IC3 report does offer a look at the most common types of scams faced by those 60 and over, as well as some basics to avoid them:

  • Romance scams and “confidence fraud” did the most damage, accounting for more than $281 million in losses in 2020 among those over 60. These include scammers who impersonate loved ones and seek money for family emergencies, among other techniques. Prevention tips: Go slow, ask a lot of questions, and be suspicious of individuals who offer excuses or ask you to ignore advice from friends or family.

  • Investment fraud topped $98 million in losses in 2020 for those over 60, up from $79 million in 2019. Prevention tips: Don’t be suckered in by fancy websites, research any special offers (especially unsolicited ones), and keep the old saying in mind: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Government impersonation fraud cost over-60 victims nearly $46 million in 2020. These scammers often pose as IRS or Social Security agents, claiming the victim is connected to a crime and seeking immediate payment to settle the matter. Prevention tips: Real government officials won’t seek payments via a specific method (wire transfer, prepaid credit card, etc.), nor are they likely to contact you by phone or text unless you’ve initiated correspondence.


Other costly scam types for those over 60, per the report, include real estate and rental fraud ($50 million in 2020), identity theft ($39 million), and lottery or inheritance fraud (nearly $39 million). Ransomware also saw a significant uptick, topping $5 million in over-60 losses in 2020 compared with a little more than $723,000 in 2019.


[FBI.GOV: What Is Ransomware?]


MOAA Premium and Life members can access An Overview of Scams and Frauds, a webinar by Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), MOAA's program director for financial and benefits education/counseling, on avoiding common scam attempts. Get more financial news and guidance at


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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and Follow him on X: @KRLilley