- Congressman: McAuliffe victory means gun control a winning message
- Clinton aide admits soliciting disgraced D.C. fundraiser; says actions were legal
- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- Obama goes shopping at Gap as minimum-wage thanks
- N.J. woman charged after client dies from black-market butt injections
- CIA chief Brennan ‘determined’ to speak out more this year
- Reset? What reset? U.S.-Russia ties at worst since Cold War
- 9/11 terror recruiter released in Syrian prisoner swap
- D.C. elections board gives green light to marijuana legalization initiative
- Elephants can tell difference between human languages: study
Elder financial abuse described as ‘epidemic’
Here’s a scary fact: Your grandchildren are more likely to rip you off than a stranger.
Investment fraud targeting older Americans is a growing problem for many senior citizens who have trouble picking honest financial advisers, according to a new survey of financial professional advisers and consumer advocates.
According to the survey of more than 750 experts — including regulators, financial planners, social workers, law enforcement officials and lawyers — the most common financial abusers of the elderly are family members and caregivers.
“Our new survey shows that financial swindles targeting older Americans are a bigger problem today than ever before,” said Don Blandin, president and CEO of Investor Protection Trust, a Washington nonprofit created to promote financial education.
The IPT trains doctors and other medical professionals to be on the lookout for vulnerable senior citizens.
The experts warned that it’s not just those elderly folks with dementia and Alzheimer’s who risk being swindled out of their life savings — and scammers can be quite persistent when it comes to stealing from elderly Americans, they warn.
The top three financial abusers of the elderly are family members, caregivers and strangers, according to the study.
Nearly four out of five respondents blamed family members for theft or diversion of funds or property, while 49 percent blamed caregivers and 47 percent blamed strangers.
Sixty-five percent of the financial professionals who were surveyed said they have dealt with elderly victims of financial fraud.
Some senior citizens, the experts said, have trouble distinguishing an honest financial adviser from a con man. More than half the survey respondents said the resources available to help older Americans make sound financial decisions are not effective.
Three out of four experts said that senior swindles are a “very serious” problem, and 78 percent said older Americans are “very vulnerable.”
Mark Lachs, a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of geriatrics at New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, said senior citizens are being exploited by scammers who steal deeds to houses, take out new credit cards in their names and gain control of their bank accounts.
Even well-meaning financial advisers can lead elderly clients astray, Mr. Faught explained. “What about the legitimate guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing? The legitimate good guys also need to be trained.”
Mr. Lachs called the growing problem an “epidemic.”
“Elder financial abuse is not only about financial exploitation: It is a major public health problem,” he said. “I am an epidemiologist and what we are looking at here qualifies as an epidemic.”
Mr. Lachs said senior citizens who are defrauded of their life savings have a risk of dying that is three times higher than it otherwise would be.
“It’s just a huge problem,” he said. “When older Americans are financially exploited and there are no resources left for their care, these individuals effectively become wards of the state. In these cases, all Americans end up paying.”
“Older adults that are financially exploited weigh heavily on our system of public entitlements at a time when the system is already very much strained,” he said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tim Devaney is a national reporter who covers business and international trade for The Washington Times. Previously, he worked for the Detroit News, Grand Rapids Press, Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News. Tim can be reached at email@example.com.
- Dysfunction, disarray at Homeland Security management cited in IG's report
- GM's Barra to be first woman to run top American carmaker
- Treasury sells last shares in 'Government Motors'
- U.S. businesses reach out quickly to partners in Iran
- General Motors ending Chevrolet sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
An America drowning in red ink is the land of the free no more
- Inside the Beltway: A new interest in Rahm Emanuel for 2016?
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- David Jolly wins in Florida, GOP keeps swing district seat
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Brennan: Russia 'absolutely' could invade eastern Ukraine
- House Democrats trying to force unemployment insurance vote
- White House touts leadership in handling of crisis in Ukraine, despite lack of results
- FCC targets black conservative in TV station fight
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- Liam Neeson tells NYC mayor to 'man up' in horse carriage fight
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again