According to this article by Elizabeth Norton, the Federal Trade Commission says that up to 80% of the victims of consumer scams are elderly. Why? Older people tend to look at things in a positive light:
One explanation may lie in a brain region that serves as a crook detector. Called the anterior insula, this structure — which fires up in response to the face of an unsavory character — is less active in older people, possibly making them less cagey than younger folks, a new study finds. Both the FTC and the FBI have found that older people are easy marks due in part to their tendency to accentuate the positive. According to social neuroscientist Shelley Taylor of UCLA, research backs up the idea that older people can put a positive spin on things — emotionally charged pictures, for example, and playing virtual games in which they risk the loss of money.
The study referred to by Norton appears here in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study's findings may mean that government efforts to prevent consumer deception of older people should be tailored differently than efforts targeted at deception of younger people. Should there be different substantive legal rules when an older person is targeted? Different penalties when older people are deceived?