Financial Crimes Against the Elderly

Financial crimes affecting the elderly fall into one of two groups:  exploitation by outsiders, and financial exploitation by family members, friends, and caregivers in Rhode Island.  The aftermath can’t be understated both financially and emotionally.

Financial Exploitation and Fraud Committed by Outsiders

  • Contests and sweepstakes.  These crimes involve the elderly being notified they have won a prize and to claim the winnings they must send in money to cover taxes and other handling costs.
  • Charitable contributions.  A play on a senior’s  sympathy to help others. Often the charitable organization is a scam and non-existent.
  • Unscrupulous investment advisors.  The selling of inappropriate investment products to an elderly person with the promise of high returns.  These products often include high investment and management fees which drastically lowers the rate of returns.  Example:  A  tax-deferred annuity to a senior in a low tax bracket with current liquidity needs.
  • Contractors and repairman.  Unnecessary renovations and repairs.  The work may subsequently not be finished or involve substandard materials or workmanship requiring correction.  Examples:  Driveway re-pavement, roof repairs, kitchen and bathroom renovations, dishonest auto mechanics.
  • Telemarketing, mail, and IRS scams.  Unsolicited telephone calls and mail promising false winnings, selling fraudulent investment products, charitable giving scams, IRS scams.  The likelihood that the elderly person was so lucky to win or to have been fortunate to have been contacted is small.  The elderly person should seek to determine its authenticity and consult with others before acting.

Financial Exploitation and Fraud Committed by Family Members, Friends, and Caregivers

Unlike financial crimes committed by outsiders – family members, friends, and caregivers are often in a position of trust.  It is a sad commentary but family and friends are often the biggest perpetrators of elderly exploitation and fraud.  Often the elderly person is not aware of the manipulation and fraud committed against them due to the close ongoing relationship that exists.  The methods include:

  • Simply taking the elder’s money, jewelry, and valuables.
  • Improper use of credits cards and ATM machines.
  • Changes to wills and trust documents making the perpetrator a beneficiary or increasing a beneficiary inheritance.
  • Borrowing money and not repaying it back
  • Improper cashing and signing of pension checks, social security, and other third-party receipts.