1 in 5 elderly people in Switzerland have fallen victim to a scam, study finds

1 in 5 elderly people in Switzerland have fallen victim to a scam, study finds

A new survey by Pro Senectute has revealed that four out of every five people over 55 years old have encountered a scam in the last five years. The organisation also discovered that around a fifth of those in their golden years in Switzerland have fallen victim to a scam, whether it be in person, through the internet or via mobile phone.

675 million Swiss francs lost to scams every year

According to the organisation - which advocates for the rights of the elderly and those claiming pensions - around 675 million francs are lost to scams in Switzerland every year, an increase of 265 million a year compared to 2018. Pro Senectute noted that the elderly interact the most with scams, with 78,2 percent of those surveyed reporting they had encountered or interacted with them in the last five years.  

A whopping 20 percent of respondents also admitted to falling victim to scams. Consequences can range from identity theft and breaches of a victim’s bank account to financial losses that can be in the thousands.

New crime wave spreading across the internet

The growth in the number and profitability of scams has been blamed on a new wave of crime revolving around the internet - spurred on by the digitisation that came about with the rise of COVID. Rates of cybercrime have nearly doubled since 2018, now accounting for 52,3 percent of all scams reported.

Despite "fake police" and supposed “grandchildren in need” being the most well-known forms of scams in the media, Pro Senectute wrote that most fraud occurs because of connections between family, friends and even businesses. They added that another lesser-known but equally as common scam is for the elderly to be cajoled or pressured by scammers into buying useless or unwanted products for ridiculously high prices. 

Measures to protect the elderly need constant updates

“The current figures on financial abuse show a worrying increase in the estimated amount of damage”, wrote Pro Senectute director Alain Huber. The organisation added that while prevention measures such as up-to-date information packages, financial protections and other public awareness campaigns do work, they need to be constantly adapted to the ever-changing scams that continue to grip Swiss cities and cantons.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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