Financial Scams Targeting the Elderly

elder abuse attorneyMost of us have heard about the frequent and unfortunate abuse of the elderly that occurs in nursing homes across California and the rest of the United States. In fact, just this week officials from the California Department of Public Health met with elder care advocates to discuss the officials’ ability, or lack thereof, to process complaints against nursing home employees. The advocates and public officials are sparring over the number of cases that are currently backlogged. While the State says there are about 700 outstanding complaints from last year, nursing home advocates put the number at around 10,000.

It should be noted, though, that elder abuse comes in many forms. In addition to physical abuses that take place at nursing homes, financial fraud against the elderly is quickly becoming just as prominent. According to a 2000 Census, of the over three million elderly citizens of California, nearly 500,000 are victims of abuse each year, with roughly 40 percent of those people victimized by fraud and financial abuse.

California has an extensive set of laws proscribing abuse of the elderly, however, most abuses go unreported because the victim is embarrassed, thinks nothing can be done, or does not realize that he or she has been abused.

Elder Financial Scams

  • False awards or prizes. Examples abound in which scammers inform an elderly person that he or she has won the lottery, and all they have to do to claim their prize is send a payment fee for taxes. One of the largest, most successful scams ever was a con like this that came out of Canada.
  • Telesales fraud. In addition to attempting to convince the elderly that they have won the lottery over the phone, telemarketers often try to sell elderly individuals items that are either worthless, or never arrive. The telemarketers then steal the person’s credit card information and sell it on the black market.
  • Unsolicited repair work. Some scammers will search for neighborhoods with elderly residents or look through obituaries for people that might be living alone in a home, and then knock on the elderly individual’s front door and inform him or her that something inside or outside of their home needs fixing. The scammers will demand payment and pretend to do work, but nothing is actually done.
  • Fraudulent legal trouble. Scammers will also try to obtain money by pretending to be attorneys, and then obtaining power of attorney over an elderly person’s property. They may also pretend that a close relative to the elderly individual is in trouble or injured, and the only way to save the relative is by sending money.

It is unfortunate that there are so many people that are physically abused or defrauded in this country, but there are many great attorneys and advocates that are working to put an end to all of this. If you would like to know more about elderly abuse in California, look here. If you think you might have a case against someone who has abused you or an elderly person that you know, contact the Appel Law Firm, or reach us at 925-938-2000, and we will ensure that you exercise all of your rights under the law.


Photo Credit: David Boldery cc

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