The Growing Epidemic of Senior Financial Abuse

According to the Investor Protection Trust, one out of every five older Americans has already been duped by a financial scam. Persons over the age of 50 now control over 70% of the nation’s wealth. As Willie Sutton once said about why he held up banks, the reason Seniors are now targeted is because “that’s where the money is.”  The General Accounting Office estimated that, for 2010 alone, financial elder abuse amounted to over $2.9 Billion. This figure is likely low because seniors often don’t report financial abuse because they are embarrassed that they have been scammed.

The perpetrators are not simply the professional scam artists. Those who take advantage of the elderly can include spouses, sons, daughters, grandchildren and care-takers.

Some potential indicators of such scams are:

  • Unusual withdrawals or transfers from bank accounts.
  • Bank statements and cancelled checks are no longer coming to the senior’s residence.
  • Unexplained trips to attorney’s offices with new “best friends.”
  • Absence of documentation about financial arrangements.
  • Implausible explanations given about the senior’s finances by the elder or his or her care giver.
  • Creation of a Power of Attorney for use by the scammer.
  • Control over access to the elder.
  • Provision of unnecessary services or necessary services at exorbitant prices.
  • Offer of lifetime care in exchange for money.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently published a guide (Protecting Residents From Financial Exploitation) to help assisted living and nursing facility managers to spot exploitation of their residents which gives a detailed list of potential “red flags” to look out for if you believe a senior loved one or friend is being taken advantage of.

At the Janssen law firm we have brought a number of cases against care takers and others who have taken financial advantage of seniors. If you believe you, or a loved one have been exploited please give us a call and we will be happy to assist you.