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.