Although wide spread around the country, most crimes against the elderly go unreported. Many senior citizens are alone and isolated or suffer from diminished cognition, while others are simply too trusting of the supposed kindness of strangers or even members of their own family. Often times, shame and embarrassment will prevent them from reporting crime or abuse before it’s too late. Assets will have disappeared, including money and real estate, or a death occurs surrounded by mysterious circumstances.
Over the years, Trace Investigations has assisted family members or estate and probate attorneys in addressing elder fraud and abuse. We have been fortunate in most of these cases to have been retained in time to prevent substantial losses of assets and other abuse. Among the many cases: a caregiver who was attempting to take over the bank accounts of her charge; a former student who was exploiting the generosity of a retired professor suffering from dementia; the former companion of a man who passed intestate, yet she showed up with a forged will naming her as his sole heir. The list goes on but many times we are called in too late, after the money is gone and the perpetrator is “in the wind.”
There are numerous resources from government and private sector sources for seniors and their families in recognizing and preventing frauds and scams, including the following:
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website has a section which discusses scams and fraud schemes that target seniors and provides a link to the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging’s resource page: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes/seniors.
- The Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative provides numerous resources for recognizing and fighting elder fraud and abuse: https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice.
- The Federal Trade Commission’s Pass It On Campaign offers information and resources not only on elder scams and cons but other consumer frauds: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0030-pass-it-on.
- The National Institute of Justice offers information on the extent of elder abuse, causes and characteristics, addressing mistreatment, financial exploration and perpetrators: https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/elder-abuse/pages/welcome.aspx.
- The National Criminal Justice Reference Center has a special feature on abuse by caregivers, domestic violence, fraud and financial abuse, training resources and tools, and additional information and resources: https://www.ncjrs.gov/elderabuse/.
- The AARP Foundation’s Elder Watch program is a valuable resource for seniors with advice on numerous scams and frauds, from home improvement cons to investment schemes: https://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/elderwatch/.
- The Better Business Bureau tracks and reports on various scams and cons around the U.S.: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/.
The more we know about the numerous and ever-growing scams, cons and grifts that prey not only on senior citizens but all of us, the better prepared we are. In all such matters “Knowledge is Power.”
If you suspect a fraud or scam against a senior, call Trace Investigations at (812) 334-8857 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.