Older New Mexicans lost more than $7 million to online scams and other fraud schemes in 2020, the FBI says in a new report.

The bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center — dubbed IC3 — found 837 state residents over the age of 60 were duped out of a combined $7,127,910, with nearly $4 million lost to so-called romance scams, according to the report. 

That marks a steep decline in the average dollar amount lost to each victim of such crimes in 2019 but an increase in the number of victims. That year, over $13.5 million was taken from 528 senior victims in New Mexico.

Frank Fisher, a spokesman for the FBI’s Albuquerque field office, said seniors are often more susceptible to romance cons, in which someone builds their trust and confidence before asking for money. He cited a more trusting nature among many older residents and noted they also remained isolated from family and friends during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Older people tend to be the most vulnerable because sometimes they’re single, they’re looking for relationships and they have financial security and assets,” Fisher said in an interview Thursday. “Before you know it, the criminals are asking for money or are asking to meet the person who they’ve developed the relationship with online.”

Fisher said the decrease in dollars lost to online fraud and the rise in the number of victims…

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