Older people Less Risky to Covid Scammers

Older people Less Risky to Covid Scammers

The world is not free from scams and Covid 19 is one of them. But who the most  liable to fall prey to these scams? Well, a new study by a group of researchers various universities said that younger people are more prone to the scams, risking their life.

It has to be noted that the US Federal Trade Commission reported more than 20 Covid-19 fraud cases by October of this year that cost the victims a total of more than 580m dollars.


The study published in Frontiers in Psychology, stressed that older people are less likely to respond to these scams than younger or middle-aged people, despite being the target of scammers are. The researchers are from Cornell University, Scripps College, and Claremont Graduate University in the US; and the University of Southampton in the UK. They said that the older people are more wary of the claims the scam message are making than younger generations,


In the study, the researchers involved about 210 participants, of which 68 were between the ages of 18 and 40. When 79 persons were aged between 41 and 64, sixty three persons were aged between 65 and 84. Each participant was presented with Covid-19 messages based on real-life scams including an email claiming to be from the World Health Organization, a text message warning that they have been exposed to Covid-19, and an announcement claiming that a new vaccine could cure the disease in hours. They were also presented with a legitimate facemask ad.


The researchers used ‘bullshit receptivity scale’ measurement tool in the study. This was a method put forward by Gordon Pennycook and other scientists in 2015. As per the method, the participants were asked to rate the profoundness’ of impressive-sounding statements such as ‘good health imparts reality to subtle creativity. The statements are randomly created to have an intact syntax, but meaningless in content. In a later study Pennycook and David Rand found that people who ascribe more profoundness t o random statements are also more likely to perceive ‘fake news’ as accurate.

In this latest study, corresponding author Julia Nolte of Cornell University said she and her team found that a higher receptivity to ‘bullshit’ is associated with a great willingness to respond to Covid-19 solicitations. The older people in the study were less likely to perceive ‘bullshit’ statements as valid. This might prevent older adults from becoming fraud victims, as age differences in susceptibility to bogus statements were associated with older adults being more wary of the alleged benefits of Covid Scams, the researchers felt.


Nolte pointed out that there was a common perception that older adults are at risk of falling victim to fraud, or are more likely to be targeted directly by scammers, Our study reveals that it is important that these warnings also reach younger and middle-aged adults, as they are more likely to perceive Covid-10 solicitations as beneficial than older adults are.”


Researcher Nolte said that the study into age differences in susceptibility to fraud was already yielding mixed findings prior to the pandemic. Whereas some studies found that older adults are more likely to be victimised, other studies report heightened vulnerability in middle-aged adults. “These differences in findings could stem from the various types of scams or frauds used and from the fact that many consumers fail to report incidents of fraud victimization, especially older adults,” she said. The researchers also noted that older adults are less likely to report Covid-19 fraud complaints. However, this does not mean that they are less affected by the pandemic scams than other demographics are. In fact, adults over 80 lose a much higher median amount of money (1,000) to Covid-19 scams than younger age groups do ($244 $590).”

Based on the study, Nolte recommend testing a wider variety of Covid 19 scams to provide better data to help tackle this problem in the years ahead. They pointed out that some types of Covid-19 scams are more likely to trick consumers, or certain consumer demographics, than others.


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