Jun 24th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Finances

Elder Abuse Includes Fraud

Elder fraud is not a new way for con artists to steal money from senior citizens. But the means by which the thieves get entrance to homes of seniors is more sophisticated now.  It is based in technology.  Seniors who are more likely to be amenable to invitations to ‘invest’ their money are identified and targeted for scams.

A recent MSNBC story is an example of such a scheme.  The senior couple featured in the story lost hundreds of thousands of dollars before their adult children were able to step in and stop the scam.  Elders lose an estimated $2.9 billion a year to conmen.  Most victims are between 80 and 89, and are women.  The National Committee for Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) recently suggested seniors with mild dementia are most vulnerable.  The MSNBC story explains why:  “A slowing down of brain function comes with normal aging… The elderly are susceptible to errors in judgment, particularly in situations where a snap decision is required — such as during a telemarketing call.” (MSNBC June 24, 2012)

Seniors, and perhaps more importantly their adult children, need to watch for any or all of the following behaviors that might indicate they are victims of elder fraud:

  • taking telephone calls ‘privately’ and refusing to tell adult children who was on the other end of the line;
  • snail mail that includes a lot of sweepstakes and lottery ads;
  • requests for loans from adult children;
  • sudden new ‘friends’ that elders refuse to introduce to their adult children;
  • any change in behavior that seems unusual and cannot be explained by the usual causes, e.g., medication changes, illness, accident.

How do you prevent your parent(s) from becoming a victim of elder fraud?  Experts suggest it is important to quietly oversee your parent(s)’ finances.  Visit them often; if you live too far way to accomplish that, be sure someone looks in on them regularly.  If you see a sudden change in behavior or secretiveness that cannot be explained away, ask questions.  Try to determine if someone new is in their lives that may be trying to defraud them of their resources.  Talk about your concerns.  Review the MSNBC article with your parents.  Let them know it can happen to any elder person/couple, including them.

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