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Old people are really easy to scam, say scientists


A new study shows why old people are so easy to scam.


Rodrigo Arangua

Old people become more gullible with age said a new study.

Most people assume that old people are more trusting due to generational difference that often make them more vulnerable to scams.

Not true say researchers at the University of Iowa who found that vulnerability to scams were likely due to deteriorating brain function.

Researchers believe that they have found a region in the brain that is affected.

The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) controls belief and doubt and may deteriorate as we age, causing us to become more gullible.

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“The current study provides the first direct evidence beyond anecdotal reports that damage to the vmPFC increases credulity. Indeed, this specific deficit may explain why highly intelligent vmPFC patients can fall victim to seemingly obvious fraud schemes,” the researchers wrote in their paper, reported Consumer Affairs.

The study used 39 elderly people and showed them advertisements mimicking ones flagged as likely scams by the Federal Trade Commission

Each participant was asked how likely it was that the ad was deceptive or if he or she would buy the item.

The researchers found that those with damaged ventromedial prefrontal cortex were nearly twice as likely to believe a scam ad.

It is believed that seniors in the US lost more than $2.9 million to scammers in 2011, reported Business Insider.

The Huffington Post UK reported that a National Institute of Justice study said that about 12 percent of seniors had been scammed out of money by a family member or stranger.

The findings were published in a special issue of the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.