Lending scams are the top risk for elderly people

China's first and so far only elder court, which is affiliated to Jing'an District, accepted 492 private lending dispute cases in the first nine months of this year.

Private lending scams have become the top risk for elders, partly due to the booming yet flawed peer to peer (P2P) loans industry, according to the country’s first and so far only "elder court."

In the past three years, nearly a third of disputes accepted by the court, which is affiliated to Jing’an District People’s Court, concerned private lending. And there is an increasing trend of elderly people falling victims to private lending.

The elder court, which was set up in March 1994, accepted 133 private lending disputes in 2015, and the number rocketed to 492 in the first nine months this year, it said.

Last year, Shanghai prosecutors accepted 309 cases of illegal public savings pooling, three times as many as in 2015. The rapid development of Internet finance is driving the dramatic increase in illegal fund-raising, according to an earlier report by Shanghai People’s Procuratorate.

Elders are particularly susceptible to these scams because they are more easily tempted by the so-called high returns, and they borrow money from relatives, neighbors and friends to invest, the court said.

Also, senior citizens often find themselves caught up in disputes about inheritance as housing prices have soared in recent years, the court said.

Downtown Jing’an, which has many old residential complexes, has 326,500 residents aged 60 or over, accounting for nearly 35 percent of the district’s population.

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