Boomers beware: Scams, frauds and other financial exploitation schemes that target older Americans are a growing multibillion-dollar industry.

These schemes are enriching the schemers, anguishing the victims and vexing law enforcement officials who find these crimes among the hardest to investigate and prosecute.

Elder financial abuse encompasses a wide range of tactics. Some scams are perpetrated by relatives or trusted advisers. Some are carried out by strangers via telemarketing and Internet-based scams.

Researchers say only a fraction of the abuse gets reported to the authorities, often because victims are too befuddled or embarrassed to speak up. Even with the reported cases, data is elusive because most federal crime statistics don't include breakdowns of victims' ages.