Did You Know?
Each year, more than 3.5 million older adults are victims of financial exploitation and are swindled out of more than $3 billion altogether. The average loss per person is $34,200.
The Older Americans Act defines elder financial exploitation broadly as “the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal benefit.”
This form of exploitation can be found across all social, educational, and economic boundaries. A humbling example that may hit close to home for some people is Cindy McBride’s story.
Her formal name may not sound familiar. Arizona sports fans often refer to her as “Flag Lady”— yes, the same lady we have watched for years, wave her flags in the upper deck of Chase Field, home of Diamondbacks baseball. She fell victim to a Facebook scam in which someone posed as an Air Force general, gained her friendship and trust, and swindled her out of nearly $200,000.
Sadly, such scams (via telephone, mail, social media, and email) are common. The perpetrators of elder financial exploitation can be anyone. Often the crime involves theft of money or property by those you’d least expect, including family members, caregivers, and financial advisers.
Not all people who fall victim of these exploitations are as vocal about it as McBride. Hopefully her situation can serve as a source of caution and a way to begin a conversation with loved ones about the risks.
In most instances of suspected elder abuse, including financial exploitation, you should contact adult protective services. If the older person is in danger or a crime has been committed, call 911.
Click here to learn more and get tips for protecting yourself and your loved ones.