U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Examining Financial Fraud Against Older Adults

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2024
Publication Series

This publication of the National Institute of Justice reports on the analysis of data from a sample of older adults who experienced financial fraud victimization.


This article presents findings from a nationally representative sample of persons aged 60 or older who experienced personal financial fraud. Data came from the 2017 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) Supplemental Fraud Survey (SFS). Prior research and data on fraud are limited by issues such as small sample sizes, nonrepresentative samples, and variations in the definition of fraud and types of crimes included. To date, many of the data have relied on statistics collected by the FBI. Despite limitations, these data are a useful source of information because the FBI consistently collects them, which provides an opportunity to report on trends over time. The FBI also collects data on the severity of the problem and types of fraud targeting older adults. Data from the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, for example, show that financial fraud of older adults is a growing problem both in terms of number of incidents reported and total dollars lost. However, based on the SFS data analyzed in this article, experts know that statistics collected by law enforcement do not capture the complete picture. The SFS aims to address the need for nationally representative estimates of fraud, both reported and not reported to the police. The SFS complements the FBI data sources by including victims who do not report to the police. Additionally, the SFS reveals that the demographic profile of financial fraud victims aged 60 or older differs from the profile of fraud victims aged 18 or older. Future research on older adults who do not report their victimizations will also provide a more comprehensive picture of fraud in the United States. These gaps in knowledge about financial fraud of older adults should be addressed through research in the future.

Date Published: March 1, 2024