SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

August 20, 2012

Why seniors may be more vulnerable to scams

It's no secret that senior citizens are a con artist's favorite target. They seem more trusting and more likely to fall for a scammer's pitch.

But why, exactly? Conventional wisdom holds that older people are more trusting and, because they are from a generation that came of age at a time when people were more honest, they don't question a scammer's “too good to be true” promises.

But maybe there's something more at work here. Researchers at the University of Iowa believe it all has to do with deteriorating brain function, a product of advancing years.

They say they’ve pinpointed the precise location in the human brain, called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), that controls belief and doubt, and that is what explains why some of us are more gullible than others.

Direct evidence

“The current study provides the first direct evidence beyond anecdotal reports that damage to the vmPFC increases credulity. Indeed, this specific deficit may explain why highly intelligent vmPFC patients can fall victim to seemingly obvious fraud schemes,” the researchers wrote in the paper published in a special issue of the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Statistics tend to support their conclusions. A study conducted for the National Institute of Justice in 2009 concluded that nearly 12 percent of people 60 and older had been exploited financially by a family member or a stranger. And a report last year by insurer MetLife Inc. estimated the annual loss by victims of elder financial abuse at $2.9 billion.

In 2006, ConsumerAffairs reported the case of an elderly Kansas man who lost $300,000 to the Canadian lottery scam over a four-year period. In an interview, his daughter said repeated intervention by family members and the police did little good, that her father could not conceive that someone would lie to him.  

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Business

AP Video
US Stocks Plunge, Wiping Out July's Gains Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best AP Review: Amazon Fire Adds Spark to Smartphones All Aboard! LIRR Strike Averted Microsoft to Cut Up to 18,000 Jobs Time Warner Rejects Murdoch's Takeover Bid Yellen Says Economy Still Needs Fed Support Cleveland Expects Economic Boom From Lebron Justice Dept. Fines Citigroup $7 Billion Justice Dept. Fines Citigroup $7 Billion Downside of Low Mortgage Rates? Less Selling Cupcake Shop Crumbs Shuttering All Its Stores San Francisco Prepares for Soda Battle Dow Breaks Record 17,000
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza
Comments Trcker