Elder abuse and fraud (senior scams) is impacting the elderly and their immediate families in worrying numbers. Studies illustrate the impact that the fraud has annually. Estimates of the true cost of exploitation range from $3 billion upwards to $36 billion yearly. Unfortunately many instances of elder abuse go unreported and therefore exact numbers are difficult to quantify. The lack of reporting of elder abuse is typically down to embarrassment. That the subject had fallen for the scam and/or concerns over the family thinking that they are incapable of managing their personal affairs. There is now a public education programme called Protect Seniors Online, operated by Home Instead Senior Care. This aims to give caregivers and professionals the tools required to keep the elderly safe. Protecting seniors from elder abuse is a full on job for carers.
The 5 part series of videos (Protect Seniors from Fraud ) highlights senior scams and measures that carers and families can take to protect the elderly. It is always a pre requisite to confirm that any carer should have a background check. Two instances of elder abuse recently highlight that this is an epidemic.. In Kern County there were over 4,000 elder abuse reports in 2017. According to Kern County Aging and Adult Services only 1 in every 24 cases reported. The most common abuse is financial. One remarkable yet disturbing account recounted that a sister in law of a Kern County resident had the daughter of a close friend take control of all accounts and moved the elderly sister in to a convalescent home. After a battle of some 6 years the family managed to secure most of the assets back to where they belonged.
Criminal charges for financial elder abuse should be tougher
Phone scams impersonating the IRS target the elderly disproportionately along with ‘family’ and those purporting to be ‘close friends’. Elder abuse also manifests itself by way of emotional and physical neglect along with abandonment. No individual can escape fraud or identity theft even America’s longest surviving World War 2 veteran. Only recently relatives discovered numerous withdrawals from the account of 112 yr old Richard Arvin Overton, the amount of money undisclosed. Mr Overton resides at home but requires 24/7 medical care which costs around $15,000 each month. To help with bills the family have set a GoFundMe page. A reminder that the elderly are especially vulnerable. Fraudsters also impersonate Medicare Representatives and either request payment for new ID or attempt to confirm a Social Security Number and bank account.
Medicare, however, does not make contact by phone and relies solely on mail to send information. The Justice Department, in February, declared a broad enforcement sweep, and charged over 250 defendants taking in a number of schemes including telemarketing and mass mailing in order to defraud seniors. The estimated losses are put at over $500 million.