DENVER (KDVR) – Predators across the country have been taking advantage of the country’s most vulnerable for as long as there has been property to covet, but it appears Colorado is a state hit harder than most, according to a report conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

It may not have made Colorado’s top 10 consumer complaints, but according to the 2020 FBI report, elder fraud across the state, primarily executed through targeted scams, is a problem that seems to only be worsening by the year.

According to the report, Colorado ranked fifth in the nation in 2020 when it comes to which state had the highest number of fraud victims over 60 years of age.

In total, the number of elder fraud victims in Colorado in 2020 was 4,335. Additionally, the total amount of income lost by those victims came out to $20.85 million, which averaged $4,810.27 per person.

How much does elder fraud cost victims?

Also outlined in the report were the most consistently applied forms of elder fraud throughout the U.S. Topping the list was “extortion,” but an arguably more disheartening discovery unearthed in the report was that the most costly type of fraud was “confidence fraud/romance.”

This form of fraud resulted in a nationwide loss of more than $281 million in 2020, which averaged out to over $41,000 per victim.

How the FBI calculates elder fraud cases

The FBI calculates this data through information gathered by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which receives complaints filed by victims in every state. Unreported elder fraud cases are not represented in this report.

In a statement from the FBI, they highlighted that “the [Internet Crime Complaint Center] receives and tracks thousands of complaints daily, reported by victims of fraud. This reporting is key to identifying, investigating, and holding those responsible accountable for their actions.”

Recent instances of predatory fraud in Colorado

It was only a week ago that Mountain View Publishers, a local publication headquartered in Broomfield, paid out a $250,000 settlement to the Colorado Attorney General’s office for allegedly adopting deceptive practices when designing their mailers.

Released court documents detailed that the mailer failed to emphasize its true purpose, which was to get the recipient to sign up for the “Jackpot Journal,” an auto-renew subscription that charged the subscriber $33 every three months.

In 2021, more than $2 billion was lost to tax fraud schemes across the country. In an effort to limit that figure going forward, the Internal Revenue Service put out a warning last month ahead of the deadline to file taxes, citing the need to remain vigilant amid a rise in suspicious calls from scammers posing as members of their agency, attempting to obtain personal information and money.

“The ones that I have received have been the threats of arrest,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Andy Tsui.

How you can report fraud to the FBI

If you have any questions in regards to filing a complaint, visit the Internet Crime Complaint Center, where they routinely publish news releases that highlight predatory fraud attempts that are trending across the nation.

Electronic tips can also be submitted anonymously to the federal agency, or simply reach out to your local FBI office, which can be found on their field offices page.

Again, this report was compiled with data that came from complaints reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, so if you see something, say something, for that is the only way this trend begins reversing.