5 Common Examples of Elder Financial Abuse to Watch Out For

Thanks to improvements in health care and overall quality of life, more people in the U.S. are living longer. Unfortunately, many of them have their golden years tarnished by financial exploitation and abuse. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, an estimated five million seniors are victims of such schemes every year.

The true number is a lot higher, given the fact that only one in 44 financial abuse cases are ever reported. For this reason, it is considered a low-risk crime, albeit one that can leave you or your elderly loved one both devastated and in a financially vulnerable position. What’s even more distressing is that these actions are often committed against older people by their own friends or family members.

Below is an overview of 5 common examples of elder abuse, and what you can do if it happens to you or someone you love.

  1. Control via power of attorney

Powers of attorney are important documents as individuals plan for incapacity.  However, they may also be a tool used by financial abusers. Family members or acquaintances intent on financially exploiting an elderly relative will often persuade the person to grant them power of attorney to handle all financial matters.   To facilitate their request, they may claim to have noticed signs of cognitive impairment and insist that such an arrangement is in the senior’s best interests.

Once power of attorney is granted, they will steal the victim’s money for their own use. They often refuse to obtain necessary support care and medical services in order to maintain access to the person’s assets, and if the senior protests for any reason, they may threaten abandonment or physical violence.

  1. Phone scams

Seniors are often targeted by fraudulent telemarketing calls, primarily because they are more likely to do business over the phone than younger people who shop, invest, and donate online. Examples of common scams include:

  • Soliciting money for nonexistent charities. This scam is usually active in the wake of a natural disaster.
  • The scammer claims that one of the victim’s relatives is in the hospital and needs money wired to them.
  • And a variety of other creative ways scammers can take advantage.

These scams are nearly impossible to trace because there is no paper trail and the scammer and victim never actually meet.

  1. Internet scams

Although many, if not most, seniors use the Internet today, its speed of adoption among the elderly has been lower than in other segments of the population. This comparative unfamiliarity makes seniors easier targets for scams such as:

  • Phishing messages that appear to come from a legitimate source (e.g. the senior’s bank), asking them to verify or update their personal information.
  • Pop-up messages that trick the victim into downloading a virus that sends the information on their computer to the scammers.
  • And more

By the time the senior citizen realizes their mistake, their personal information has been stolen or compromised.

  1. Investment scams

Investment scams are often aimed at older people wanting to make the most out of their retirement savings. Bernie Madoff’s infamous pyramid scheme included several elderly people in its victim count, and people have even fallen for the Nigerian prince scam, which called for financial partners to help claim inheritance money.

  1. Lottery scams

One of the best-known forms of fraud, lottery scammers tell their target that they have won a sweepstakes or lottery and need to make a deposit to access their winnings. The victim is often sent a check that inevitably bounces, but not before the scammers have made off with the money for the supposed prize taxes and fees.

If you or someone you love are targeted by scammers or pressured to yield control of your finances, alert trusted family members or an elder financial abuse attorney. Even if the damage is already done and the money is gone, don’t be too intimidated or embarrassed to do something about it. Solan, Park & Robello has years of experience in protecting the rights of seniors who have been taken advantage of financially, and will work with you to hold the perpetrators accountable and prevent further financial loss. For a case review, please contact us today.

The following two tabs change content below.

Solan, Park & Robello

Solan, Park & Robello is a full-service probate and estate planning firm offering experienced counsel in a wide range of estate planning matters—from preparation to administration to litigation.

Latest posts by Solan, Park & Robello (see all)

%d bloggers like this: