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Burnes D, Henderson C, Sheppard C, et al. Prevalence of financial fraud and scams among older adults in the United States: A systematic review and meta-analysis American Journal of Public Health. August 2017; 107(8): 13-21.
How prevalent are financial fraud and scams targeting older adults in the United States?
As the population ages, financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly has become a serious concern.
The increase in financial exploitation of older adults leads to an increased risk of hospitalization, poor physical and mental health, and poor quality of life. The type of financial exploitation relates to the perpetrator of the abuse, which can be someone in a position of trust, such as a family member, or a stranger.
This review aimed to highlight the prevalence of financial fraud and scams perpetrated by strangers against older adults, in order to inform future prevention efforts, early detection and treatment.
A detailed search was conducted of a number of electronic databases for studies published from 1990 to2017. Studies that focused on elder financial fraud and scams prevalence were included in the review.
A total of 1,207 studies were identified in searches, and 12 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.
This review was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
The studies included in this review reveal that one in every 18 older adults experience financial fraud every year.
The frequency of financial fraud and scams among the elderly is of serious concern as it can contribute to major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, lower subjective health ratings, and increased functional somatic complaints for the aging population.
The review revealed that one in every 18 older adults experience financial fraud/scams every year.
The small sample sizes of the studies limited the accuracy of the review.
Professionals working with older adults likely routinely encounter individuals who are fraud–scam victims. Validation of instruments to screen for financial fraud and scams appears like a priority area for future research.