18 July 2013

"Why Older Folks Are Targeted for Fraud"

John Wasik, Contributor
Why are older people more susceptible to financial fraud? Is it because they are lonely, more gullible or simply unaware of the risks?
The traditional view has been it’s because they typically have lots of money, saved over a lifetime of working. They often have time to talk to strangers and feel compelled to listen to offers of enhancing returns on their investments.
The reality is more complicated than that. There may be a physiological reason they respond to fraudulent offers more often.
According to a new study by a team at UCLA, older brains have differing abilities to gauge troubling situations and may be less prone to screen out swindlers. Here’s what the researchers found:
“Older people, more than younger adults, may fail to interpret an untrustworthy face as potentially dishonest, the study shows. The reason for this, the UCLA life scientists found, seems to be that a brain region called the anterior insula, which is linked to disgust and is important for discerning untrustworthy faces, is less active in older adults.
The consequences of misplaced trust for older adults are severe,” said Shelley E. Taylor, a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA and senior author of the new research, which appears Dec. 3 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).”
This inability to separate friends from foes is costing older Americans a bundle:  “A recent study estimates that adults over age 60 lost at least $2.9 billion in 2010 to financial exploitation, ranging from home repair scams to complex financial swindles. This figure represents a 12 percent increase from 2008.”
Read more:
See also:  "Fuller Decision"
The authorities are not interested in bringing criminal charges nor enforcing the orders of the court.

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