On June 14, 2024, President Biden declared June 15th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  In honor of the day, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) reminded financial institutions (FIs) to remain vigilant in identifying and reporting elder financial exploitation (EFE).

In issuing the reminder, FinCEN cited the Financial Trend Analysis (2024 Analysis) it recently performed which focused on patterns and trends identified in Bank Secrecy Act data linked to EFE, which we previously blogged on here.  In performing that analysis, FinCEN studied 155,415 suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by FIs that referred to EFE.  Those SARs indicated approximately $27 billion in EFE-related suspicious activity occurred between June 15, 2022 and June 15, 2023.

In its reminder, FinCEN also recommended that FIs refer suspected victims of EFE to the Department of Justice’s National Elder Fraud Hotline and that victims file reports with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Although not cited in FinCEN’s reminder, on April 30, 2024, the IC3 issued its own Elder Fraud Report (the IC3 Report) based on complaints it received in 2023.  The IC3 Report showed that complaints of EFE to the IC3 increased by 14% in 2023, and associated losses increased by approximately 11%.  However, the FBI noted that many of these crimes go unreported, and it warned that the threat EFE poses is likely much greater.

There are several key takeaways from the IC3 report:

  • Elder fraud is a costly crime, with fraud against individuals aged 60 and over causing more than $3.4 billion in losses in 2023.  The average older victim reported losing nearly $34,000, while 5,920 older victims reported losing more than $100,000.
  • Older people are disproportionately impacted by scams and fraud, with more than 101,000 victims aged 60 and over reporting these types of crimes in 2023.  In contrast, the second most impacted demographic – individuals aged 30-39 years old – filed 88,138 reports with losses totaling over $1.1 billion – less than a third of the $3.4 billion in losses experienced by older victims.  
  • Tech support scams were by far the most widely reported type of EFE, with the next most common type of scam, personal data breaches, being reported less than half as often.
  • While tech support scams were reported most often, investment scams were the most costly type of EFE in 2023, costing older victims more than $1.2 billion.

While the numbers in the IC3 Report were lower than those in FinCEN’s 2024 Analysis, recall that FinCEN’s analysis studied SAR filings, while the IC3 Report studied complaints of actual fraud (and, as stated previously, most victims do not file reports). 

FinCEN’s reminder – especially as accentuated by its 2024 Analysis and the IC3 Report – underscores the costly and growing problem EFE poses.  In issuing the 2024 Analysis and its June 2022 EFE Advisory (which we blogged on here), FinCEN has made it abundantly clear that it not only expects FIs to report EFE, but also to protect the elderly against scams.  To that end, in addition to identifying and reporting EFE, FIs should develop, implement and maintain internal protocols and procedures for protecting elder account holders.