Scammers Prey on the Elderly
It comes as no surprise to read that scams against senior citiens are on the rise, given that it has been an increasing problem for years. Many of the calls I get are regarding family members or close confidants taking money before it can be passed on to the senior's chosen devisees or heirs. Abuse of powers of attorneys are a common tactic. The Washington Post highlights the related problems of scam artists targeting seniors, particularly unscrupulous "contractors" pitching repairs:
The scam happens in suburbs across the country. "They'll case the neighborhood," said John Creel, who investigated the Beatties' case for Montgomery County's Office of Consumer Protection. "They'll look for senior citizens, and they'll do what they can to steal money from them by offering to pave driveways, fix roofs, trim trees, whatever. Chances are, you're not getting your money's worth, or it's a total scam."
Friends, neighbors and family members should be on the lookout for these types of scams. Furthermore, physicians and bank employees should also help:
As the scams become better known, authorities are trying to help. Robert Roush, a geriatrics professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, helped launch a program that encourages physicians to look out for financial abuse among their elderly patients. Doctors receive a pocket guide with recommended questions to ask, including: Who manages your money day-to-day? How is that going? Do you have a will? Has anyone asked you to change it?
The doctors are asked to report suspected cases of swindling to local agencies. Many of those agencies want banks to play a more active role and require bank employees who review accounts or tellers to report suspicious behavior, such as an older customer showing up with a new friend to transfer funds."That's the best way for us to find out what's going on," said Karen Hannigan, supervisor of adult protective services in Arlington County.
It is my hope that police and district attorneys begin devoting more resources to catching and prosecuting these crooks.