Financial exploitation, and particularly thefts and scams, are increasing at an alarming rate. In this study we (a) determined the national prevalence of older adults who report having been a victim of fraud, (b) created a population-based model for the prediction of fraud, and (c) examined how fraud is experienced by the most psychologically vulnerable older adults. The older adults studied were 4,400 participants in a Health and Retirement Study substudy, the 2008 Leave Behind Questionnaire. The prevalence of fraud across the previous 5 years was 4.5%. Among measures collected in 2002, age, education, and depression were significant predictors of fraud. Financial satisfaction and social-needs fulfillment were measured in 2008 and were significantly related to fraud above and beyond the 2002 predictors. Using depression and social-needs fulfillment to determine the most psychologically vulnerable older adults, we found that fraud prevalence was three times higher (14%) among those with the highest depression and the lowest social-needs fulfillment than among the rest of the sample (4.1%; χ2 = 20.49; p < .001). Clinical gerontologists and other professionals in the field need to be aware of their psychologically vulnerable clients heightened exposure to financial fraud.
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