A nationwide National Fraud Victim Study commissioned by the AARP Foundation examined people over the age of 50 who had fallen victim to fraud and sought to identify behaviors that made them more susceptible to fraudulent sales pitches.
The most prevalent scams identified by the survey included advance fee loan schemes, investment cons, fraudulent business opportunity deals and lottery scams. The study compared the experiences of the older Americans and compared them to the general population to examine the differences and identify reasons the older population are more at risk.
Overall, victims of fraud were found to be more interested in persuasion tactics and were more likely to expose themselves to sales situations. They were also less likely to take preventative actions to protect themselves then the general population.
Key findings from the study included:
Nearly two-thirds of victims 50+ (65%) report exposing themselves to two or more sales situations, compared to just over half (52%) of the general population. Victims were more likely to report attending sales presentations when offered a free meal or hotel stay in return; to enter their name in drawings to win a prize; to allow sales people into their home to make a presentation and to open and read every piece of mail they receive.
Victims 50+ are more interested in 6 of the 10 persuasion tactics than the general population. Victims were more interested in an investment that promised a guaranteed return, an opportunity to apply for a federal grant assistance, cutting their mortgage, a free CD to save money, a necklace at a reduced price for a limited time, and new technology than the general population.
Victims 50+ were less likely than the general population to report taking prevention measures such as signing up for the Do Not Call List or checking the references of businesses before hiring them.
Investment fraud victims and lottery fraud victims were found to have divergent demographic profiles. Investment victims were more likely than the general population to be male, married, have some college education or more and to make $50,000 or more. Lottery victims were more likely than the general population to be single, have less than a college education and are less likely to make $50,000 or more.
The study was conducted between May 7 and August 2, 2010 and included 2,232 interviews (1,509 from the general population and 723 that were fraud victims. The interviews were conducted via telephone by Woelfel Research.