An article published recently in a North Carolina newspaper makes an important point in discussing elder ﬁnancial abuse. Ms. Julie Wiggins, the Regional Long Term Care Ombudsman for the High Country Area Agency on Aging, said the following about people who defraud the elderly:
“These people are educated and skilled at what they do. They have narrowed it down to a science.”
Not only that: seniors today, as a generation, are characterized as trusting and wanting to do the right thing. Therefore, all things considered “scams,” where the fraudulent individuals ask an elderly person to prepay taxes on alleged sweepstakes winnings or to pay delinquent bills, are effective.
The article also says that people over 50 hold 75% of the consumer wealth in the United States today (I expect that statistic is similar in Canada). The writer adds that the target age for scammers is 70, when early dementia often starts. Victims also come from all social and economic backgrounds.
Crucially, the writer notes that most scammers are family members. Still, it seems that one of the only ways to stem this abuse is for someone close to the victim to call the authorities if they notice irregular behaviour on the part of the elderly victim (such as frequent ATM withdrawals, among many other behaviours).
This ad appeared in the Richmond News on November 1, 2013.