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AARP Investment Fraud Vulnerability Study



This study sought to identify differences between known investment fraud victims and the general investor population in three discrete areas: psychological mindset, behavioral characteristics and demographic characteristics. 

Key findings include the following:

  • More victims reported valuing wealth accumulation as a measure of success in life, “Some of the most important achievements in life include acquiring money.” More victims (60%) agreed with this statement than general investors (41%).

  • “The most profitable financial returns are often found in investments that are not regulated by the government.” More victims (48%) agreed with this statement than general investors (30%). 

  • Nearly six in ten (58%) fraud victims reported receiving at least one investment sales telephone call each month compared to less than one in three (32%) of the general investors.

  • Over four-in-ten (42%) victims made five or more investment decisions in a year, compared to only about one-in-ten (11%) general investors.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network contracted with Applied Research Consultants (ARC) to complete a total of 1,028 interviews, including 814 from the general investor population and 214 victims. Interviews were conducted by an independent telephone calling center, Opinion Access Corporation (Opinion Access) between August 23 and September 7, 2016. The sample for the telephone survey of fraud victims was provided by AARP from a database of known victims of fraud. For more information contact Jennifer Sauer at


Suggested Citation:

Shadel, Doug and Karla Pak. AARP Investment Fraud Vulnerability Study. Washington, DC: AARP Research, February 2017.

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