Data from a research study found that Pennsylvania’s senior citizens lose an estimated $1.2 billion through fraudulent means every year. The study, however, noted that many occurrences of elder fraud go unreported, according to the PhillyVoice.

In some cases, repeated incidents of abuse or exploitation by someone close to an elderly individual may appear as though they are normal occurrences.

Swindlers may target senior citizens

Each elderly individual defrauded in the Keystone State reportedly loses $34,200 on average. The most common forms of deception used to target seniors come through email and the telephone.

With the rise in popularity of the internet and social media, seniors are finding themselves in regular contact with convincing perpetrators. Sometimes, it may be difficult for a senior to understand a swindle is taking place when he or she knows an individual personally both online and in real life.

Small amounts of money add up over time

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, elder abuse is increasing, and many scams may involve small amounts of money. When an individual builds up a relationship of trust with a senior, however, defrauding them for a little bit of money repeatedly adds up over time.

In one case of financial abuse reported by Good Day PA, an elderly man fell victim to a fraud that lasted for two years until his daughter found out about the scheme. The perpetrators only asked him each time for $25 to keep his Social Security “safe.” However, the amount of money lost grew to a significant amount over the course of time.

Protecting elders helps their estate

Senior citizens and older vulnerable individuals often live on a fixed income, and they may never recover the money lost. Not only does the loss of funds mean fewer resources for their long-term care, seniors may also feel neglected, angry and shamed when they discover the deceitful practices. They may then begin to mistrust those genuinely caring family members around them, which can lead to problems involving their estate plans.