San Diego State University
April 8, 2013
America’s Invisible Epidemic: Preventing Financial Fraud among Elderly Senior citizens have long been the target of financial fraud and material abuse. The fraud can be perpetrated by someone does not know the victim which is classified as consumer fraud or perpetrated by someone who knows the victim. According to the 2010 Investor Protection Trust (IPT) Elder Fraud Survey, more than seven million older Americans already have been victimized by a financial scam. This means one out of every five citizens over the age of 65. (Willis, 2012) In addition, a 2011 MetLife study found the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion dollars. This is a 12 percent increase from the $2.6 billion estimated in 2008. (Willis, 2012) Furthermore, 5 percent of Americans who are 60 and older had been the victim of recent financial exploitation by a family member. 6.5 percent of Americans who are 60 and older were the target of a nonfamily member. This is concluded by a federally funded study based on input from 5,777 older adults conducted for the National Institute of Justice in 2009. (Crary, 2012) All these data showed that financial fraud and material abuse among elderly Americans is getting worse today. This article will review the extent and variety of the frauds, analyze the reason behind such abuses and outline the existing initiatives that would prevent such crimes from happening. Extent and variety of the fraud
Pascal Goyer, a Canadian who is the master head behind “grandparent scam”, is alleged 23 counts indictment of defrauding elderly Americans in Los Angeles last year. (Eimiller, 2012) Allegedly, Goyer and his co-conspirator would call from a boiler room in Montreal to retired US citizens for wire transfers. They would pose their grandchild is in need of cash to cope with some sort of emergency, for example an arrest or an accident. (Eimiller, 2012) In another case, scammers posed as soldiers who've been serving in Afghanistan. They would call grandparents and claiming to need money as part of their homecoming. (Crary, 2012) The similar parts in many of those financial crime among elderly is the fraudster would urge the elderly not to tell anyone else about the money transfer. These fraudsters exploited grandparents’ care and love for their grandchildren. Sometimes, the victim didn’t report the crime because he or she is worrying of the grandchild safety. The criminals used these elderly Americans silence. A letter from Congressman Mike Michaud to Attorney General Holder and Secretary Napolitano writes, “It has been brought to my attention that a number of seniors in Maine and throughout New England have become the victims of a sophisticated phone phishing scam operating out of Jamaica.” (Michaud, 2012) According the Congressman’s source, FairPoint Communications, scammers typically call elderly victims claiming they have won a sweepstakes but need to pay a fee to collect the winnings. In some more advanced scams, the criminals would often posed as federal agents from the FBI, Customs, or IRS to lie to the elderlies. The scammers usually work to build victims' trust, then use personal information to coerce them into sending large sums of money. In one case in Maine a retired pilot recently lost $85,000 to scam artists on the island. (Gulley,2013) It is very unfortunate that elderlies are among the highest victims in common telemarketing scams. Medicare fraud also has its high rate of appearing on local or even national newspapers. Last month, a physician in New Jersey pled guilty in defrauding Medicare and pocketing more than half a million dollars that she didn’t earn. (U.S. Attorney's Office, 2013) In many similar cases, these physicians provide home based health care to elderlies and lied about the actual face-to-face time they spend with patients....