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FinCEN issues analysis on elder financial exploitation

Written on May 2, 2024

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a Financial Trend Analysis focusing on patterns and trends identified in Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) data linked to Elder Financial Exploitation (EFE), or the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property or assets.  

FinCEN examined BSA reports filed between June 15, 2022, and June 15, 2023, that either used the key term referenced in FinCEN’s June 2022 EFE Advisory or checked “Elder Financial Exploitation” as a suspicious activity type. This amounted to 155,415 filings over this period indicating roughly $27 billion in EFE-related suspicious activity. 

Financial institutions began filing BSA reports featuring the advisory’s key term on the same day that FinCEN published its 2022 advisory. FinCEN has continued to receive EFE BSA reports, averaging 15,993 per month between June 15, 2023, and January 15, 2024. Banks have submitted the vast majority of EFE-related BSA filings. 

EFE typically consists of two subcategories: elder scams and elder theft. Elder scams, identified in approximately 80% of the EFE BSA reports that FinCEN analyzed, involve the transfer of money to a stranger or imposter for a promised benefit that the older adult does not receive. In elder theft, identified in approximately 20% of the reports, an otherwise trusted person steals an older adult’s assets, funds, or income. Among other conclusions, FinCEN’s analysis revealed that most elder scam-related BSA filings referenced “account takeover” by a perpetrator unknown to the victim; that adult children were the most frequent elder theft-related perpetrators; and that illicit actors mostly relied on unsophisticated means to steal funds that minimize direct contact with financial institution employees. 

EFE-related losses affect personal savings, checking accounts, retirement savings, and investments, and can severely impact victims’ well-being and financial security as they age. In addition to filing a Suspicious Activity Report, FinCEN recommends that financial institutions refer customers who may be victims of EFE to the Department of Justice’s National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 or 833-372-8311 for assistance with reporting suspected fraud to the appropriate government agencies.  

Additionally, FinCEN recommends that EFE victims file incident reports to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Federal Trade Commission. 

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