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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The state’s Office of Senior Protection is warning senior citizens about an increase in scams targeting the elderly.

According to the department, in 2021 there was a 135% increase in the amount of money lost because of scams.

The office is kicking off the “Be a Fraud Fighter” campaign in response to the increase.

LaDonna Koebel explained, “Between 2019-2021 year-end we went from receiving 600 reports a year to over 7000 reports of scam victims a year. We‘ve seen dollar losses go up to 1.6 million to nearly 13 million.”

The campaign raises awareness about common scams and encourages Kentuckians to speak up. The office said conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic made senior citizens more susceptible to scams.

Koebel added, “Early on people were lonely and were more apt to answer telephone calls talk to strangers, meet people online. there is also a lot of insecurity and fears for the economy right now, so people are easily lured into investment scams. You can make a lot of money quick.”

“Be a Fraud Fighter” puts scammers on notice that their actions won’t be tolerated while giving the elderly the tools and information they need to protect themselves.

Koebel continued, “Many of our senior citizens are not going to be able to make up the difference they lost. if they lose their life savings. They’re not still working. They can’t recover from that.”

The Office of Senior Protection said scams involving winning the lottery were the most popular scams last month.