I’m always saddened by the stories of people who have been swindled. But there’s something even more despicable when scammers go after senior citizens, who don’t have as much time as younger victims to make up for lost money.
It's a sad reality that crooks seek out vulnerable older individuals who might be more easily influenced by "get rich quick" offers and other financial scams. As discussed in a column in The Washington Post, titled "Targeting scams against the elderly," a recent survey found that 34% of attorneys who took part said they are dealing with or will have to help senior clients who have been exploited.
With proper training, many experts believe that many of these scammers can be caught before they prey on innocent senior citizens. The three groups that conducted the survey—the Investor Protection Trust, the Investor Protection Institute, and the American Bar Association—have joined forces to create an ongoing campaign called the “Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program.” This initiative will help attorneys recognize investment fraud schemes and hopefully keep elderly clients from being taken. It is a national program that trains professionals to detect and report elder fraud.
Another survey cited in the article revealed that more than 7.3 million Americans over age 65 were already victims of some sort of fraud. As a result, the Investor Protection Trust worked with health care professionals to educate them on how to detect senior fraud.
You do not have to be an attorney or health care professional to take action—if you suspect an elderly person is being targeted by a scam, you should contact the adult protective services agency in your area. This information can be found at www.eldercare.gov or call 800-677-1116. Another source is the National Center on Elder Abuse, which is part of the Administration on Aging (www.ncea.aoa.gov).
Our seniors have paid their dues—they have served in our Armed Forces, made contributions to our communities, reared the next generation, and paved the way for our happiness. Help them now that they are in need. Report elder abuse to your local agency. If you are a victim of fraud or elder abuse, contact a qualified estate planning or elder law attorney.
Reference: The Washington Post (July 29, 2014) "Targeting scams against the elderly"