Financial advisors are becoming more aggressive about protecting senior citizens from financial fraud and abuse. They’re being trained to recognize the warning signs and are urged to be proactive when they see something wrong. The larger financial firms train their financial advisors on the issue and have some staff members dedicated to following up and trying to solve the problem.
This article interviews one senior fraud investigator for a financial firm. She tells anecdotes, tells how the profiles of victims is changing, and explains different ways people exploit seniors.
Scammers target the elderly because they represent an attractive pool of wealth and may not know a lot about how the internet can be used to rip them off. Some are suffering from cognitive decline. The people Johnson typically used to see being scammed were 80-year-old women living alone without close family. Now, “the internet really allows everybody to be victimized,” she says. “More and more with online, I’m getting men as well.”
Some 17 percent of seniors say they’ve been the victim of financial exploitation, according to studies cited in a report last year by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The annual tally for money lost in elder financial abuse was $2.9 billion, a 2011 MetLife study estimated, based on public data. Experts suspect that the vast majority of abuse is not reported and that the true tally is far higher.
The number of elder abuse cases referred to U.S. Bank’s complaints-and-investigations team more than doubled from 2014 to 2015, after the bank launched an education program for employees.