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Social Security scams soared in recent years due to the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasingly sophisticated technologies. According to FBI data, Americans 60 and older reported $3.1 billion in scam losses in 2022 alone  — a whopping 84% gain from the previous year. That growth rate could push even higher in coming years now that fraudsters have discovered the wonders of artificial intelligence.

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AI has proven particularly useful in helping scammers steal Social Security numbers and benefits, according to Amanda D’Amico, vice president of risk and fraud strategy & operations at Thomson Reuters.

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“In the last few years, we have seen an explosion of the use of advanced technology by criminal actors to commit fraud and financial crimes targeting government benefit programs, including Social Security,” D’Amico told Forbes in a recent interview. “The rapid emergence of ChatGPT and its open availability presents the perfect opportunity for criminals to up their tech game once again.”

And the elderly are particularly susceptible, experts say.

“[Seniors] are prime targets as they typically have some form of accumulated savings or retirement and they tend to be less technologically savvy,” David Derigiotis, an author and chief insurance officer for Embroker, told Newsweek. “Verifying the legitimacy of communications from federal programs, such as Social Security, is crucial to avoid falling for a scam.”

The number of fraud complaints involving seniors totaled 88,262 in 2022, according to the FBI. The average loss per victim was $35,101. A total of 5,456 victims lost more than $100,000.

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