Seniors Targeted for Financial Fraud
Elderly citizens are victimized by different types of abuse, including financial fraud. As technology advances, scammers find new ways to target seniors, and in many cases, drain their life’s savings. An AARP study shows that 83 percent of the wealth in this country is held by people ages 50 and up, and those in their 70s or 80s have most of the average net worth. Their assets make them targets for fraud. Although most are not reported, it is estimated that exploitation costs older Americans from $2.9 to $36 billion every year.
Types of Scams
A 79-year old nurse was scammed out of almost $200,000 a few years back, and it started with a call from a stranger claiming to be from computer support. He directed her to her computer and sent her fake images that showed her bank account with no balance. He duped her into believing that she could replenish it by purchasing gift cards and transferring those funds to him. She bought over 100, and initiated two bank transfers.
Another scammer was caught after contacting an elderly man and telling him he had won a sweepstakes. A father in his 90s was contacted by a woman who befriended him and asked for money to treat her illness. Many con artists are actually family members; a study by The U.S. Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health revealed that close to 58 percent are relatives.
What Makes Seniors Vulnerable?
There is new research that shows a correlation between aging and becoming more vulnerable to this kind of fraud. A doctor at Weill-Cornell Medicine in New York believes that as the brain ages, changes can make the elderly more susceptible to fraud. Even if there is no illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease, some seniors have age-associated financial vulnerability. Symptoms include decreased ability to realize the warning signs of fraud and an increased likelihood to believe things that they hear.
Many seniors live by themselves, and this can lead to social isolation. They may be more prone to interacting with strangers because they are lonely, and they may also not have support systems to advise them. A neuroscientist at McGill University compared brain studies of 13 older scam victims and 13 others of the same ages, educations, and genders who avoided scammers. His team found that victims’ brains had one region, the insula, that was smaller than the others. He said that this helps people detect things in their environments, such as warning signs that something may be amiss. This research is in its early stages.
Families can help protect their older relatives, but seniors that live alone have fewer safeguards. Laws such as the federal 2017 Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act can help victims. Unfortunately, most scammers get away with fraud, and the funds are usually not returned. Advocates feel that more support and legislation is needed for this issue.
Brooklyn Elder Law Lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Fight for Seniors’ Rights
Do not hesitate to call a trusted Brooklyn elder law lawyer at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP if you suspect elder abuse. For an initial consultation, call us at 212-495-8133 or contact us online today. Located in Brooklyn, New York, and Lakewood, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York.