As recession grinds on, financial abuse of elders takes a growing toll
Fraud is bad enough, but when family members or caregivers financially abuse elderly relatives or patients, that’s downright despicable.
Family, friends, neighbors, and caregivers are the culprits in 55 percent of the cases, according to “Broken Trust: Elders, Family, and Finances,’’ a report from the MetLife Mature Market Institute, produced in conjunction with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and Virginia Tech University.
Law enforcement and securities officials say the recession is pushing more people to steal from well-off seniors.
“Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century,’’ said Fred Joseph, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association.
The annual loss is estimated to be at least $2.6 billion, according to the report. The typical victim of elder abuse is a woman over 75 who lives alone.
Financial abuse of elders can happen in a number of ways, according to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse:
Following are some red-flag warnings to help spot financial abuse:
For more information, go to www.nasaa.org and search for “Senior Investor Resource Center.’’
To report elder abuse you can contact an Adult Protective Services office at www.apsnetwork.org.
“This type of crime just sets me off,’’ Joseph said. “You get victims who are in their 70s and 80s being taken for their life savings. What do they do? They can’t earn it back.’’
If you suspect a senior is being exploited, report it - even if the suspected scoundrel is a family member.