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Romance Scam Research Center

2023: EU: Consumer Fraud against Older Adults in Digital Society: Examining Victimization and Its Impact

Kemp, Steven; Nieves Erades Pérez.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health; Basel Vol. 20, Iss. 7, (2023): 5404. DOI:10.3390/ijerph20075404

Abstract: "The European population is aging, which means more people aged sixty-five and over are at risk of financial exploitation. However, there is a lack of consensus regarding whether older persons are at greater risk of fraud than younger counterparts due to physical, economic, and social factors or, rather, whether they are slightly protected from fraud in the digital era due to less frequent online activity. Moreover, little is known about the financial, emotional, psychological, and physical impacts of fraud experiences amongst older generations in digital society. We employ multilevel modelling on a sample of EU citizens (n = 26,735) to analyze these issues. The results show that, holding other factors constant, older adults are more likely to suffer fraud in general, but not fraud via online channels. Identity theft in which the offender attempts to trick the victim by impersonating a reputable organization is found to be particularly relevant for citizens aged sixty-five and above. Older persons are less likely to suffer a financial impact but more likely to experience anger, irritation, embarrassment, and negative impacts on their physical health from fraud in general as well as from online fraud. Many organizations aim to help protect older adults from financial crime and its impacts; thus, the results emphasize the need to understand particular fraud categories suffered by older generations and to design support programs that fully take into account the non-financial impacts of this crime."

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