Articles Tagged with elder abuse

$1.7 billion: That is how much money seniors aged 60+ lost in scams last year. What is behind the surge in fraudulent cons targeting senior citizens, and how can they protect themselves better? On the other side of the question, what should someone charged with elder fraud do? 

The What and the Why

What, exactly, is elder fraud? It is any kind of scam that exploits older people in an attempt to get a hold of their money. It can involve promises of goods and services, cons to get them to help someone in need, identity theft, and more. The elderly are especially delicious targets for unscrupulous scammers for a number of reasons:

  • They are more trusting in general, especially in the wake of promises from those who assert they are working in the senior’s best interests;
  • They frequently have large savings accounts or own items of value;
  • Some have cognitive issues that interfere with their judgment;
  • Many are afraid to report crimes after the fact, worried they’ll be viewed as foolish or incompetent.
  • They are less proficient with technology, generally speaking.

Common Scams

There are a number of popular scams out there; here are just a few to watch out for:

  • Grandparent Scam: A caller claims to be a grandchild in trouble and asks for money to help them out of a pickle.
  • Government Worker Imposter Scams: Callers claim to be working for the IRS or some other government agency and are verifying (stealing) personal information.
  • Fake Investments: Callers claim to have a fabulous investment opportunity, only to disappear with the money. It could be a false charity, a Ponzi scheme, or any number of scams promising returns that seem too good to be true (and are)!
  • Tech Support Scams: Computer screens scream virus attacks, only to get personal information and/or remote access to one’s computer.
  • Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams: After claiming the elder has won a huge prize, scammers get their hands on banking information in order to transfer winnings.  Surprise—fraudsters clear out accounts this way.
  • Love Scams: Pretending to be a great catch who is totally devoted, this scammer gains the affection and confidence of prey and ultimately “borrows” money.
  • Funeral Scams: Fraudsters find out where funerals are being held and show up, claiming the deceased owes them money, which the family is now responsible for.

Protecting Seniors from Scams

There is no sure-fire way to protect oneself from scammers, but there are ways to minimize the risk:

  • Be suspicious of anyone who wants money or personal information.
  • Purchase antivirus software.
  • Never give money to someone you do not know.
  • Refrain from making impulsive decisions when you are not 100% sure who you are dealing with.
  • If you are suspicious, check the facts by looking up the number and making a call to the real phone number of the agency.
  • Have accounts monitored.
  • Keep lines of communication open with trusted family and friends.

Continue reading

Crimes against the elderly are increasing at a disturbing rate in San Diego, California. In 2016, the last year with data available, the violent crime against elderly San Diego residents increased 13%. This accounts for 780 violent crimes against the vulnerable senior citizens living in San Diego – 14 homicides, 24 rapes, 205 robberies, and 537 aggravated assaults, according to CBS 8. In total, elder abuse cases, which include other types of elder abuse such as financial abuse and mental suffering, increased by 39% between 2015 and 2016.

The rise in elder abuse is especially problematic as San Diego increasingly becomes a destination for retirees. According to CBS, the number of San Diego residents over the age of 65 is expected to increase by 23% by 2050. Currently, only 13% of San Diego County residents are over the age of 65.

Because more elderly residents could mean more elder abuse, San Diego is proactively trying to protect this vulnerable group of people. The District Attorney’s office, responsible for prosecuting crimes, gathered several government agencies, including the Aging and Independent Services, and created the “San Diego County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Blueprint.”

The Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Blueprint is meant to identify the unique needs and challenges faced by the elderly. According to Sheriff William Gore, these unique considerations include various health challenges, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, as well as any other related disorders or cultural issues. Then, the local government’s plan-of-action will implement “best practices” for handling these problems by looking at how other local governments and states handle the same issues.

San Diego County urges anyone who believes they may be a victim of elder abuse, or knows of someone who may be a victim, to call Adult Protective Services at 800.510.2020. In 2017, the hotline received 14,700 referrals and handled almost 10,000 cases. According to Adult Protective Services, this represents an increase in the number of callers, though the number of callers in previous years was not available. According to the agency, financial abuse was the most common form of elder abuse. Financial abuse occurs when an elderly person’s property or assets are being misused – typically through fraud, trickery, force, or threats of force. Mental suffering and physical abuse were listed as the second and third most common complaints, according to the agency.

Discussing the disturbingly high rate of elder abuse in San Diego and the government’s comprehensive response, District Attorney Summer Stephan told CBS News, “Our society will be judged on how we treated our most vulnerable, including our children and our seniors.” Continue reading

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