| 75% of elder fraud victims do not report the crime.
By Robin Roth
Financial exploitation of older adults is becoming the crime of the 21st century.
The growing population of aging boomers along with exponential growth in technology is fueling this billion-dollar industry. Since the beginning of 2011, financial fraud has exceeded $20 billion dollars, affecting many thousands of victims – and these statistics only reflect reported crimes. Elders represent a disproportionate percentage of the fraud victims.
During the next 15 years, 20% of the American population will be over 65 years old. As the aging population accelerates, so will financial exploitation.
Why are elders targeted?
Older adults are targeted because many have financial reserves (pension, house, savings) and may be vulnerable in many key areas: dementia, loneliness, maintaining independence, and lacking technological sophistication. For example, old age dementia may render the victim unable to handle simple financial matters, let alone being able to comprehend complicated investment vehicles.
In telemarketing scams, lonely elders are preyed on to buy products they don’t need in exchange for talking to “someone nice” on the other end. Many times older victims will not report the crime out of fear they will appear to be incompetent, which may result in being placed in an assisted living facility.
According to the Attorney General Eric Holder, 3-out-of-4 (75%) of financial fraud victims over 55 years old will not report the crime.
Types of scams
Financial exploitation can take many forms. The following are more commonly perpetrated against elders:
• Healthcare and insurance fraud
• Counterfeit prescription drugs
• Funeral and cemetery scams
• Fraudulent anti-aging products
• Telemarketing, internet fraud
• Investment scams
• Reverse mortgage scams
• Sweepstakes and lottery scams
• The grandparent scam
Who are the perpetrators?
Surprisingly, financial exploitation of elders is not only perpetrated by scam artists, but more frequently by family members.
According the Metlife’s report “Broken Trust: Elders, Family, and Finances,” 55% of fiscal exploitation is committed by someone the victim knows: family member, caregiver, friend, or neighbor. Economic instability has created financial hardships, and for some, a perfect justification for taking money from older family or friends.
My goal is to fight elder fraud. These predatory practices have to stop. Currently, financial exploitation of the older people is “under-reported, under-recognized, and under-prosecuted.”
Robin has an unusually diverse background and is always coming up with new ideas. She supported herself as a professional drummer while getting a BA in Economics and Research Psychology at Mills College in Oakland, California. In a few months she will complete her MBA in Finance. Previously, she was an IT Operations and project manager for SBC Internet Services.
Robin’s latest venture involves combining her experience and connections in business, music, and technology to develop a “one stop shop” for executives to learn how to play drums, perform live shows, and record songs for iTunes. She volunteers with Centro Community to help empower entrepreneurs grow their businesses and consults with small businesses helping them pursue new entrepreneurial ventures. She is also passionate about the issue of elder fraud and publishes articles on her blog at www.elderfraud.net.
HOW TO REPORT ELDER FRAUD
If you suspect elder abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation, Click Here for Robin’s article on the steps you can take to gather evidence, establish what kind of fraud is being committed and where to report it.