Every purpose starts with the question “why”.
Unfortunately, in the case of the Stop Senior Thefts Project, answering the “why” is very easy – because there are wolves in the world who take advantage of those in society who are easy victims. Targets are selected based on the ease and value of the theft. These wolves do not discriminate; and a victim’s past sacrifice or service to society has no impact.
Many perpetrating these criminal acts do so from abroad, with no penalty or repercussions for their actions. They operate as a business, with intelligent processes, time-based flow, and sophisticated methods.
The Stop Senior Thefts project was created because the stories of seniors being victimized by scammers and thieves are disturbing. Below is a list put together in less than 5 minutes by searching the news for senior scams:
- Janet C. – in her 70s – April 2016
- Norfolk, VA
- $300,000 stolen – Sweetheart Scam
- Jane Doe – 74 years old – April 2016
- Phoenix, AZ
- $60,000 stolen – Nigerian Facebook Friend Scam
- Erma G. – 84 years old – September 2014
- Independence, KS
- $350,000 bilked by “trusted” friend
- September 2014
- Lisa’s Elderly Father – reported in January 2015
- Wichita, KS
- $400,000 Stolen – Nigerian Inheritance Scam
- Ongoing for 10 years
- Bob D. – 88 years old – February 2016
- Plano, TX
- $250,000 stolen – Jamaican Lottery Scam
- Planned to use money to care of his wife, who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s. After the money was stolen, he had to move her to another living center.
Most certainly, one of the saddest is the story of Ed F. Unfortunately, his story is not unique:
- Ed F. – 77 years old – March 2016
- Lubbock, TX
- $2,000 Stolen – Grandparent Scam
- After discovering he had been scammed, Ed told his grandson “I’ve been made a fool of.” Ed then walked into his backyard, and killed himself.
The corresponding statistics for elder financial abuse are shocking:
- In a True Link Financial report in 2015, their research estimated elder financial abuse exceeds $36.48 BILLION each year. Prior to that report, MetLife estimated the losses at $2.9 billion according to a 2009 report.
- Consumer Reports estimates that approximately 1 in 5 senior citizens has been victimized financially. Unfortunately, this number may be low because of a lack of reporting.
- Many victims may be unable or unwilling to implicate a friend or family member as the perpetrator. The University of Chicago survey found that adults over the age of 60 are less likely to report verbal or financial mistreatment than those aged 50–60.
- According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, financial exploitation can be devastating to the victim. Research has shown that elders who suffer from abuse, neglect or exploitation are three times more likely to die than those who have not suffered from abuse, neglect or exploitation.
- Compounding the devastation – exploitation is often traced to family members, trusted friends, or caregivers. Financial abuse often occurs with the implied acknowledgment and/or consent of the elder person, even when that person is mentally capable, and therefore can be more difficult to detect or prove.
- The CDC estimates that by 2030, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will more than double to 71 million, roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population. This dramatic increase in the aging population can also lead to a large pool of potential victims for financial exploitation.
For more information on the services we provide, please visit our How We Help page.
If you need assistance, would like to schedule an educational seminar, or would like to help our project, please contact us.
Additional resources for elder financial fraud can be found here.