Silver Linings: Cybercrime hits older people hardest in 2021

The FBI’s March 22 cybercrime report breaks down victims by age. AARP Maine

Cyber fraud was up 7% nationwide in 2021, with people older than 60 the most-often targeted, according to an FBI report released recently.

The FBI Internet Crime Report called the rise in cybercrime “unprecedented,” with almost 850,000 reports and losses of more than $6.9 billion.

With 1,402 victims, Maine ranked 46th in the country (including US territories). The state was 52nd in losses, with a total of $7.26 million being swindled, and 42nd in the number of swindlers (507).

But that does not mean it is less of a problem here, said Phil Chin, the volunteer fraud watch spokesman for AARP Maine.

Former CBS news writer Phil Chin is the AARP Maine fraud watch spokesman. Submitted photo

“Sure, there was an increase in Maine,” Chin said in a recent telephone interview. “It might not seem so compared to California (No. 1 in victims, losses and swindlers), but it has in part to do with population.”

Florida, Texas, New York and Illinois were also among the top five states in numbers of victims.

Maine is “doing about the same” as other states considering population density and the high percentage of older people, Chin said.

“Cyber criminals know no boundaries,” he said. “Cybercrime is equal opportunity.”

Chin and his partner, Pam Partridge, hold monthly Zoom seminars titled AARP Maine Fraud Watch Show on the second Thursday of every month. You can go to to register for these sessions.

In March they discussed celebrity scams and IRS scams and took questions from participants.

Other types of scams include email compromise schemes, which for the fourth consecutive year, had the largest dollar losses, more than $2.4 billion nationwide, according to the FBI report. This scheme mostly affects businesses.

“For example, an entity might be asked to conduct a wire transfer of funds under false pretense, with the loot flowing to a crook,” according to a news release from AARP Maine.

Another type of swindle, the “confidence scam,” accounted for the third-highest losses to individual victims. These scams numbered 24,299, with a total of $956 million in…