Cyber Crime Targeting the Elderly

by Lisa Hlavacek


Earlier this year my 77-year-old father was the victim of a house rental scam.  When trying to gain access to the home through the digital access lock box, the scammers directed him to a fake access website which stole his credit card information.  They also convinced him to wire the down payment after sending him a fake rental agreement.  Thankfully, their attempts to acquire funds via wire transfer failed.  Cyber criminals target elderly folk, because they tend to have more wealth and may have health conditions that jeopardize their ability to detect scams.  Also, the internet affords these criminals anonymity and more ability to get away with their crimes.

A look at cyber crime by age: FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center  – Year 2020

I was surprised to learn that not only are seniors massively targeted by cyber crimes, but they on average lose more money per victim as well.

  • The FBI estimates that elder fraud results in more than $3 billion in losses annually.
  • According to BBC, researchers determined that almost a third of elderly scam victims are too embarrassed to tell their family or friends what happened to them.

Search Results for High Value Cyber Crimes

AARP is an excellent resource for scam protection strategies.  They include a financial vulnerability survey, identity theft protection services, call blocking software, reverse image search, background checks, email encryption services, and more.  Click here to access these resources. 


We all can serve a role in helping protect our seniors.  Education is a powerful tool that we can share with each other to help prevent future victims.  I will keep a sharper eye out for seniors who may be getting taken advantage of in my workplace as well as my own family.



FBI - Elder Fraud

BBC - Hidden Shame of Elderly Victims

AARP - Scams and Fraud