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Washington — Americans over 60 are increasingly falling victim to crimes of fraud perpetrated online and over the phone at rates that add up to billions in losses each year, and federal investigators are warning that the scammers are becoming more sophisticated in the ploys they use to get their victims to hand over large sums of money.  

An estimated $28.3 billion is lost to elder fraud scams each year, according to a recent AARP Study. It found that 72% — or more than $20 billion — is taken by individuals who are known to the victims, like family members, friends or advisers. The study says many of the scams that account for the nearly $30 billion lost go unreported, and the FBI is now urging anyone who encounters suspicious activity online to disengage and report the conduct to law enforcement. 

Rich Brune — a 75-year-old retiree living in Virginia —  told CBS News he fell for an online scam last year that cost him nearly $800,000. Sophisticated criminals posing as Microsoft workers contacted him online and told Brune his computer had been hacked, his financial accounts were compromised, and he needed to take urgent remedial action. 

Over a five-month period, the Navy veteran said he was instructed to transfer much of his life savings into a cryptocurrency account that the scammers told him was safe from the purported hackers. Instead, they were robbing him of his nest egg.  

After his money vanished, according to Brune, the Internal Revenue Service informed him that he owed approximately $200,000 in taxes because the money stolen from him had been withdrawn from his retirement accounts. 

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