Americans could be losing more than $36 billion each year to fraudsters targeting seniors, CNBC reports

Protecting your parents from CNBC.

A 2015 study by True Link Financial estimated scammers drain around $36.5 billion from senior citizens every year, but a more recent report by CNBC claims this number might, in reality, be much higher.

According to President of the North American Securities Administrators Association, Mike Rothman, current retirees represent some of the wealthiest retirees to date in terms of total assets and savings.

Though thieves have always been attracted to seniors–preying on those experiencing cognitive decline or living alone–the appeal is growing due to the large nest eggs many Boomer retirees have built for themselves.

And with our population aging as a whole, the pool of potential retiree victims at peak personal wealth is much larger than ever before. For scam artists, it pays to go after seniors.

And pay it does: if a scammer is successful, Allianz Life estimates a senior financial fraud victim loses $36,000 on average.

As CNBC reports, the majority of reported fraud cases fall into three categories:

Third-party exploitation (27%)

This could include a third party insisting on becoming a cosigner to a victim’s accounts, showing unusual interest in assisting or escorting a victim to the bank, third party check cashing, and a third party giving unusual or inappropriate financial advice or demonstrating financial influence.

Account distributions (26%)

Including phony or unethical savings and investment schemes.

Exploitation by family, trustee, or power of attorney (23%)

Outright theft perpetrated by those charged with financial caretaking and decision-making–including by those closest to and most trusted by the victim.

The article goes on to caution seniors against false comfort when it comes to fraudsters. Though con artists looking to take advantage someone prefer to prey on the vulnerable, like the cognitively impaired, many senior victims aren’t disabled and have no memory loss or illness. A good scammer can take anyone for a ride–especially when he’s confident no one can.

You can read the rest of CNBC’s report about the high price tag of senior financial fraud right here.

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