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Wire Fraud Victim with Alzheimer’s Wins Citibank Lawsuit

Anxious woman being scammed by phone
People with dementia may be even more vulnerable to fraud and scams than previously thought, according to an NIA study. See the story of one victim with a happy ending. Read the research. (Video+Article)

It’s been almost three years since a Skokie man had his Citibank account emptied by scammers. Now, a new lawsuit against Citibank out of New York is giving some fraud victims, including Scott Jacobson, fresh hope. NBC 5 Responds PJ Randhawa reports.

High vulnerability

Older adults may be even more vulnerable to fraud and scams than previously thought, according to an NIA-funded study that mimicked a real-world government imposter scam. The results suggest that a sizable minority of older adults, including those without cognitive impairment, are vulnerable to fraud and scams. The study results were published in JAMA Network Open. (Continued below video…)

Previous research on the vulnerability of older adults to financial fraud and scams has largely relied on self-reported data. To assess a more real-world response, researchers from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, in collaboration with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation, conducted an experiment that mimicked imposter scams. The participants — 644 older adults (on average, age 85) in the Rush Memory and Aging Project — were contacted by a fictitious government agency about unusual activity on their Social Security and Medicare accounts that required verification.

Three Scam Groups

Researchers classified how the older adults responded to the scam into three groups: no engagement (did not answer the phone or call in), engagement (answered or called in but raised skepticism and did not provide personal information), and conversion (answered or called in without skepticism or provided personal information). Most of the participants did not engage (68.5%). However, when they answered or called in, more of the participants engaged without skepticism (16.4%) than with skepticism (15.1%), and 12% of the participants even provided personal information.

The researchers also compared key characteristics across the engagement groups and found differences in cognition, financial literacy, and scam awareness. Older adults who engaged but raised skepticism scored the highest of all three groups on cognitive and financial literacy tests. This group also had the fewest number of people with dementia.

Dementia Causes Low Scam Awareness

Those in the conversion group had the lowest scam awareness. When participants with dementia were excluded from analysis, cognition and financial literacy differences were no longer statistically significant, but those in the conversion group still scored lowest in scam awareness.

The generalizability of these findings to the general aging population may be limited, as participants were majority White, women, and highly educated. Because of the high levels of education among participants and the use of less intensive tactics than actual scammers, there is likely even more conversion among older adults in real-world scenarios. Increasing scam awareness and further exploring factors associated with vulnerability are important steps to decrease the risk of fraud victimization for this population.

This research was supported in part by NIA grants R01AG17917, R01AG33678, and R01AG34374.

Reference: Yu L, et al. Vulnerability of older adults to government impersonation scams. JAMA Network Open. 2023. Epub Sept. 22. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.35319.

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P. Berger

This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. it has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. it has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. It has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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