Financial scams that target seniors are extremely common. In fact, the Modesto Bee reported that an elderly Californian woman was financially abused by her husband for over a decade. The report notes that when the victim married her abuser, who was 24 years her junior, she owned a beautiful home and had several hundred thousand dollars in her bank account. Then, over the course of a decade, the victim depleted her savings and lost her home to foreclosure. The elderly woman recently died and her widower has been arrested under suspicion of both financial and physical elder abuse.
Scams Can Be Difficult To Spot
Although stories of family members financially abusing senior citizens in their own family, such as the one illustrated above, do frequently come to light, stories of financial scams perpetrated by strangers on the elderly are also very common. For example, the ‘IRS scam’ is currently very popular in the United States. During this scam, a stranger calls a senior citizen claiming to be an agent of the Internal Revenue Service and demands that the victim pay fictitious overdue taxes or else face arrest. It is a good idea for seniors to be aware of this type of scam, and other common scams, so that if they receive such a call they will know to be suspicious of the caller.
Top Financial Scams Used to Target Seniors
While scam artists attempt to take financial advantage of the elderly in a variety of different ways, the National Council on Aging has put together a helpful list of the most common scams that are used to take money from the elderly. These scams include:
- Health Insurance Scams: Here a perpetrator tries to obtain their victim’s personal information by pretending to be a Medicare representative.
- Counterfeit Prescription Drugs: This scam generally takes place over the internet and targets seniors who are looking online to purchase medication. The victim pays for medicine that either never arrives, that will not help their medical condition, or that turns out to be counterfeit.
- Funeral Scams: This scam often occurs when a scammer attends a stranger’s funeral and tells the grieving spouse that the deceased spouse owed the scammer money.
- Telemarketing Scams: Scammers commonly try to financially abuse the elderly over the phone. Telemarketing scams often involve fraudulent charities or shopping deals conducted over the phone where the promised goods are never shipped.
- Internet Fraud: Internet scams come in a variety of forms, but commonly involve sending a senior an email that asks them to update their personal information.
- Pyramid Schemes: A pyramid scheme is a fraudulent business model that recruits members by promising a high rate of return on their investment in exchange for paying an initial fee.
- Reverse Mortgage Scams: Because many seniors own their homes, scammers sometimes offer unsecured reverse mortgages in an attempt to illegally obtain title to the senior’s home.
- Lottery Scams: Here the perpetrator informs a senior that they have won a fictitious lottery and tell them that in order to receive their winnings they must first make a payment.
- The Grandparent Scam: During the ‘grandparent scam’ the scammer calls on the phone claiming to be the senior’s grandchild. The scammer then asks for money because they are in some sort of financial trouble.
How to Report Elder Abuse
If you suspect that elder abuse is occurring, contact Adult Protective Services at (800) 336-4316.
Think you or your loved one may have been scammed?
After ensuring that the at risk senior is no longer being abused, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm at (949) 861-2990 for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. Our Southern California elder law attorneys have years of experience fighting for the rights of the elderly and would be happy to help you.