WSJ: Scammers Increasingly Target Seniors – Jamaican Lottery Scam

One in Every Five Americans 65 or Older Has Been Abused Financially

One in every five Americans age 65 or older has been abused financially, according to a 2010 survey by the Investor Protection Trust, a financial-education organization. Financial abuse cost older Americans at least $2.9 billion in 2010, up 12% in two years, according toMetropolitan Life Insurance Co.MET -0.11%

The ability to recognize fraud can fade with aging, even among people without dementia, research shows. As the number of seniors increases, they also are becoming more-enticing targets. Cheap Internet phoning, emailing and rapid fund-transfer technology make it easy to contact—and swindle—potential targets. People strapped after the financial crisis can be more apt to fall for get-rich-quick schemes. They can lose thousands of dollars or more before families notice.

Only 10% of such frauds are reported, investigators estimate. Older people often fear losing their independence if their children find out. Most reported cases aren’t even investigated.

Some of the most insidious scams are those targeting older people concerns about retirement security. Read how scammers got thousands of dollars in three cases.

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