Financial fraud among older americans: Evidence and implications

Marguerite Deliema, Martha Deevy, Annamaria Lusardi, Olivia S. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objectives: The consequences of poor financial capability at older ages are serious and include making mistakes with credit, spending retirement assets too quickly, and being defrauded by financial predators. Because older persons are at or past the peak of their wealth accumulation, they are often the targets of fraud. Methods: Our project analyzes a module we developed and fielded on people aged 50 an older years in the 2016 Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Using this data set, we evaluated the incidence and prospective risk factors (measured in 2010) for investment fraud and prize/lottery fraud using logistic regression (N = 1,220). Results: Relatively few HRS respondents mentioned any single form of fraud over the prior 5 years, but 5.0% reported at least one form of investment fraud and 4.4% recounted prize/lottery fraud. Greater wealth (nonhousing) was associated with investment fraud, whereas lower housing wealth and symptoms of depression were associated with prize/lottery fraud. Hispanics were significantly less likely to report either type of fraud. Other suspected risk factors - low social integration and financial literacy - were not significant. Discussion: Fraud is a complex phenomenon and no single factor uniquely predicts victimization across different types, even within the category of investment fraud. Prevention programs should educate consumers about various types of fraud and increase awareness among financial services professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-868
Number of pages8
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 9 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) funded as part of the Retirement Research Consortium through the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center, Award RRC08098401. The authors also received research support from the TIAA Institute and the Pension Research Council/Boettner Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Opinions and conclusions are solely those of the authors and do not represent the opinions or policy of the TIAA Institute or TIAA, SSA, or any agency of the Federal Government. Neither the U. S. Government nor any agency thereof nor any of their employees makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the contents of this report. Any reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the U. S. Government or any agency thereof.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Financial literacy
  • Health and Retirement Study
  • Investment fraud
  • Lottery scam


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