• Print
  • Default text size A
  • Larger text size A
  • Largest text size A
close

Links provided by Fidelity Brokerage Services

fidelity-fbs-iconThese links are provided by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC ("FBS") for educational and informational purposes only. FBS is responsible for the information contained in the links. FICS and FBS are seperate but affiliated companies and FICS is not involved in the preparation or selection of these links, nor does it explicitly or implicitly endorse or approve information contained in the links.
close

Published by Fidelity Interactive Content Services

Content for this page, unless otherwise indicated with a Fidelity pyramid logo, is published or selected by Fidelity Interactive Content Services LLC ("FICS"), a Fidelity company with main offices in New York, New York. All Web pages that are published by FICS will contain this legend. FICS was established to present users with objective news, information, data and guidance on personal finance topics drawn from a diverse collection of sources including affiliated and non-affiliated financial services publications and FICS-created content. Content selected and published by FICS drawn from affiliated Fidelity companies is labeled as such. FICS selected content is not intended to provide tax, legal, insurance or investment advice and should not be construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any security by any Fidelity entity or any third-party. Quotes are delayed unless otherwise noted. FICS is owned by FMR LLC and is an affiliate of Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC. Terms of use for Third-Party Content and Research.

Targeting scams against the elderly

  • By Michelle Singletary,
  • The Washington Post Writers Group
  • – 07/29/2014
  • Facebook.
  • Twitter.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Google Plus
  • Print

The fallout from the Great Recession, plus continued job insecurity and a seesaw stock market, have all contributed to people's fears that their money won't last. And this makes them vulnerable to investment scams promising better returns.

I'm always saddened by the stories of people who have been swindled. But there's something even more despicable when scammers go after senior citizens, who don't have as much time as younger victims to make up for lost money.

Living better in retirement

More on retirement income, Social Security and other issues that affect you.

Researchers at Wayne State University, collaborating with the Illinois Institute of Technology, quantified what's obvious to scammers — highly depressed elderly Americans are even more vulnerable to financial fraud.

In a survey conducted by the Investor Protection Trust, the Investor Protection Institute and the American Bar Association, 34 percent of lawyers polled said they are dealing with or expect to have senior clients who have been exploited.

Law enforcement officials in Miami recently filed charges against four men police allege were targeting senior citizens by selling stock in a Miami Beach-based company that promoters said had invented a new technology to be used by the National Football League. There was no deal, officials said about the case that is still pending. In all, prosecutors say the men fraudulently made off with $2.4 million. A lot of investor money was used to pay exorbitant commissions and fees, the criminal indictment said.

Could a lot of investment fraud be detected before seniors are scammed?

If the right people are trained, it could be. So, the three groups that conducted the survey have teamed up for an ongoing campaign called the "Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program." It will teach lawyers to — among other related skills — recognize investment fraud schemes and hopefully prevent their elderly clients, especially those with conditions that affect their cognitive abilities, from being ripped off.

I know. It's a bit of a tongue twister but nonetheless, I like the mission, which is to create a national program that trains professionals to detect and report elder-fraud.

A few years ago, the Investor Protection Trust released a survey that found that more than 7.3 million Americans over 65 had already been victims of fraud. In response to those findings, the Trust partnered with another group of professionals — people in the health-care field — to teach them to spot senior fraud.

Now the groups want to develop continuing legal education programs for attorneys so they can detect, prevent and report elder-investment fraud.

In the survey of lawyers, 27 percent said they deal on a weekly or monthly basis "with the children of older victims of investment fraud and financial exploitation who are either concerned parties seeking legal help for their parents or who are individuals accused of financial exploitation of their elders."

"Every lawyer, not just those who practice elder law, needs to understand how this growing epidemic may affect them personally and professionally," said Don Blandin, president and chief executive of the Investor Protection Trust. "A lawyer who is ignorant of elder financial exploitation may fail to protect the client from harm or unwittingly participate in the client's victimization."

Soliciting help from attorneys — and not just those who specialize in elder law or trust and estate law — makes sense "because lawyers play such a significant role in advising and serving an aging society, especially around financial matters," said Charles Sabatino, director of the ABA's Commission on Law and Aging.

But you don't have to be an attorney to make a difference in this area. If you suspect an elderly person is being targeted by a scam, do something about it. Contact the adult protective services agency in your county or state. You can find contact information at www.eldercare.gov or call 800-677-1116. If you can't get help from adult protective services, try other government or law enforcement agencies. Don't get discouraged.

You can also find resources through the National Center on Elder Abuse, which comes under the arm of the Administration on Aging. Go to ncea.aoa.gov and click on the link for "Stop Abuse."

As I travel around the country, I see notices in airports and train stations encouraging travelers to report any suspicious activity. That mantra should also make us vigilant in preventing elder-financial abuse.

If you see something, say something.

  • Facebook.
  • Twitter.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Google Plus
  • Print
© 2015, Washington Post Writers Group
Votes are submitted voluntarily by individuals and reflect their own opinion of the article's helpfulness. A percentage value for helpfulness will display once a sufficient number of votes have been submitted.
Content for this page, unless otherwise indicated with a Fidelity pyramid logo, is published or selected by Fidelity Interactive Content Services LLC ("FICS"), a Fidelity company with main offices in New York, New York. All Web pages that are published by FICS will contain this legend. FICS was established to present users with objective news, information, data and guidance on personal finance topics drawn from a diverse collection of sources including affiliated and non-affiliated financial services publications and FICS-created content. Content selected and published by FICS drawn from affiliated Fidelity companies is labeled as such. FICS selected content is not intended to provide tax, legal, insurance or investment advice and should not be construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any security by any Fidelity entity or any third-party. Quotes are delayed unless otherwise noted. FICS is owned by FMR LLC and is an affiliate of Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC. Terms of use for Third-Party Content and Research.
fidelity-fbs-iconThese links are provided by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC ("FBS") for educational and informational purposes only. FBS is responsible for the information contained in the links. FICS and FBS are seperate but affiliated companies and FICS is not involved in the preparation or selection of these links, nor does it explicitly or implicitly endorse or approve information contained in the links.
Before investing, consider the funds' investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. Contact Fidelity for a prospectus or, if available, a summary prospectus containing this information.  Read it carefully.