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The Most Common Types of Financial Fraud Against Senior Citizens

Elder abuse is a broad category. It can cover physical abuse and neglect of the elderly in nursing homes or by at-home caregivers and relatives. Taking advantage of senior citizens in order to commit financial fraud against them to take their money is also a form of elder abuse and it’s shockingly common in Arizona — a popular retirement destination — as well as throughout the United States. According to Consumer Reports, financial fraud against the elderly is on the rise, swindling seniors out of over $3 billion per year.

Our elderly citizens deserve better. If you are a senior or you have elderly loved ones, it’s important to be aware of the most common types of financial fraud perpetrated against the elderly today, including fraud by strangers and fraud and exploitation committed by family members and acquaintances.

Fraud Committed Against Senior Citizens by Strangers

Most fraud committed by strangers against the elderly promises them goods, services, or prizes that aren’t delivered after the fraudsters collect cash or financial and personal identification information from the victim. Some common examples of this type of fraud include:

  • Informing a senior that they’ve won a prize or sweepstakes but must pay for shipping, processing fees, or taxes
  • Investment scams promising investment in stocks, bonds, annuities, gems, gold, or real estate with high return rates and then collecting money when no such investment exists or in exchange for fake gems, uninhabitable property, or falsified documents
  • Soliciting charitable donations for non-existent charities or falsely representing real charities
  • Recommending and collecting money for home repairs and then not making the repairs, or doing incomplete or substandard repairs
  • Selling the elderly false or substandard insurance policies for health insurance, life insurance, or funeral insurance
  • Taking money for miracle cures for health problems
  • Calling a senior citizen and impersonating an adult grandchild who needs money for an emergency such as cash bail, car repairs, or overdue rent they need as quickly as possible, often asking the grandparent not to tell their parents

Some studies find that seniors have a diminished “gut response” to cues of untrustworthiness that younger adults are more likely to pick up on. This makes seniors more vulnerable to fraud. They may miss the brain’s feedback of alarm that younger people experience when dealing with fraudsters. Older citizens also may not be as familiar with today’s technology and might not understand the ramifications of giving out personal information and financial data over the phone or the internet.

elder financial abuse lawyers can fight against this fraud

Common Ways Relatives and Acquaintances May Exploit the Elderly

It’s particularly insidious when relatives, friends, neighbors or trusted acquaintances take advantage of the elderly and commit fraud against them by abusing their positions of trust. Unfortunately, many senior citizens fall victim to a variety of fraudulent actions against them by people they trust. Some common examples include the following:

  • Selling off the senior’s valuables and possessions
  • Stealing valuable items
  • Stealing medications
  • Denying medical and other services in order to pocket the funds
  • Borrowing money without paying it back
  • Cashing social security checks without permission
  • Using a senior’s ATM and Credit cards without permission
  • Coercing the senior to sign over or sell property and possessions

Sadly, some relatives or friends who commit these types of fraud use nefarious tactics like deceit, intimidation, emotional abuse, coercion, or playing up to the senior’s emotions or sense of sympathy. They may also begin isolating the senior from loved ones who would recognize the exploitation taking place.

While anyone can fall victim to fraud, people over age 60 are more vulnerable to scammers, and the elderly over age 80 report the highest losses to financial fraud and exploitation.

If you or an elderly loved one have experienced fraud or exploitation, contact the authorities to report the crime. There are also law firms specializing in cases of senior abuse and exploitation. A elder abuse lawyer can help you recover financial compensation. 

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.