Post 2 of 4 - Elder Financial Abuse Scenarios

This is the second of four posts on elder financial abuse.

In my first post, we defined elder abuse and discussed its growing trend. Today, I want to share with you examples of elder financial abuse and how it often takes place. 

Typical scenarios include:
  • Stealing cash or property from an older person or his/her residence
  • Obtaining unauthorized access to an elder’s accounts, including Social Security checks, pension payments, checking or savings accounts or ATM cards
  • Misusing a senior’s funds that have been entrusted into the care of another person
  • Withdrawals from a senior’s bank or investment account—without consent or when the senior is unable to consent because of impairment
  • Using a senior’s credit or debit card without permission
  • Persuading an older adult to sign a “power of attorney” (POA) at a time when the senior lacks understanding because of dementia or some other impairment
  • Forging a senior’s signature on a check, deed, power of attorney, will, codicil, or other commercial instrument, or contract
  • False or misleading representations that induce the senior to transfer funds or obtain an unnecessary reverse mortgage with inflated fees
  • Sale of inappropriate products or services to an older adult (e.g., an auto club membership when the senior no longer drives)
  • Inducing a senior to sign a will, codicil or other testamentary instrument
  • Adding names to a senior’s bank account at a time he/she is unable to understand the change to the account
  • Unscrupulous home repair offers
  • Transactions involving coercion, manipulation, or trickery of a vulnerable senior, known as “undue influence”
  • Coercing an elder to give a “gift” 
  • Scams and “confidence” games involving “home improvement,” phony charities, the lottery or sweepstakes, sweetheart “gifts,” or younger relatives who are in trouble overseas
  • Internet scams involving “phishing” emails that trick a senior into entering personal and/or financial account information
  • Identity thief offenses

We now know what elder financial abuse is and how it happens but who is behind these crimes? Who are often the exploiters?

  • Relatives of the older victim such as spouses, partners, children and grandchildren.  Many of the younger abusers have substance abuse issues.
  • Caregivers such as home aides, nursing assistants, personal care attendants
  • Someone in a position of trust with respect to the senior known as a “Fiduciary."  Agents pursuant to a power of attorney,  Accountants,  Financial Advisors,  Bankers,  Guardians or conservators,  or Attorneys.
  • Predatory lenders who make unnecessary loans generating excessive fees and commissions to older, vulnerable consumers, with the expectation that they will default
  • Strangers who “con” seniors via scams and confidence games, both within and outside the USA

In my next post, we will examine the warning signs of elder financial abuse.

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