People aged over 55 in Switzerland are swindled out of around CHF400 million ($406 million) a year, according to a study by Pro Senectute, a Swiss organisation that champions the rights of the elderly.
The amount of money involved and the number of victims shows that action is required, Pro Senectuteexternal link said on Monday, regarding the first representative study on the extent of financial abuse affecting those over 55 years old.
The study found that one in four people over 55 had been the victim of fraud over the past five years. Every fifth person had suffered a financial loss. The damage totalled over CHF400 million a year, the authors extrapolated.
Financial abuse includes classic robbery in public or at a bank ATM (more than half the cases), giving money to someone who asked for it under a false pretext such as a lost wallet, paying for products that hadn’t been ordered or other internet scams.
Men are more likely to be victims than women and people in French-speaking Switzerland fall for such fraud more often than those in German-speaking and Italian-speaking parts of the country. Six out of ten people do not talk to anyone about the financial abuse they suffered.
The study does not explain whether the most-affected groups are targeted specifically by con artists, or whether they are simply more easily duped.
“The amount and extent of the fraud surprised us,” said Werner Schärer, director of Pro Senctute Switzerland. He added that thanks to the study it will be possible in future to provide more targeted information to people in these age groups to better protect them against fraud.