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Florida researchers developing tool to screen seniors for vulnerability to scams

fraud illustration
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The research project is funded through a four-year, $743,000 grant from the Florida Department of Health.

An older person’s susceptibility to scams often goes undetected until it’s too late and they have already been victimized. 

Now a University of Central Florida researcher is teaming up with others at the University of Florida and University of Miami to solve that problem.

Nichole Lighthall is a UCF assistant professor with a doctorate in gerontology. She says the team’s scientific aims are finding the risk factors for scams, fraud and misinformation among older adults, including seniors with mild cognitive impairment.

“We will take this scientific data and use it to develop, hopefully, a screening tool for older adults to catch vulnerability to scams and fraud before people are actually defrauded. Presently, this does not exist,” she said.

Doctors, nurses and social workers would use their tool kit and alert the seniors themselves and family members to the risk.

UM professor of neurology Bonnie Levin and UF professor of psychology Natalie Ebner are collaborating with Lighthall.

The research is funded through a four-year, $743,000 grant from the Florida Department of Health to the Florida Consortium to Reduce Misinformation and Exploitation in Alzheimer’s Disease at the UCF Adult Development and Decision Lab.

Copyright 2022 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Joe Byrnes