Friday, July 7, 2017

Advice for the ‘handshake’ generation: Stay connected, stay safe from scammers

George Edward
More often than not, senior citizens will be scammed and defrauded by their loved ones, not strangers, according to the author of “How to Steal from Mom; A Wake-up Call for Seniors.”

“They will be preyed upon by those near and dear them,” said George Edward of Bellingham. Before retiring, Edward was the risk management officer for Whatcom Educational Credit Union. During his tenure he developed the WECU SAFE Program, tailored to combat the financial exploitation of senior citizens.

While leading the program from 2007-15, he investigated 120 cases of financial fraud and abuse cases. Seventy-five percent of the scammers were a son or daughter. The average age of their victims was 82.

In most cases, the victim was alone, physically disabled, confused or suffering from Alzheimer’s, Edward said.

The crime is often referred to as familial fraud. Familial fraud occurs when fraud is committed by one family member against another. Caregiver fraud may be committed by a family member but it could also be anyone trusted to help with legal, financial or personal business. In either case, the fraud is the same, said Laura Lee, senior vice president and security officer of Peoples Bank in Bellingham.

The people who commit such crimes target older people because they are most likely to have substantial savings and excellent credit. They also tend to be polite and trusting, a result of being part of what Edward calls the “handshake generation.”

As more and more Baby Boomers retire on fixed incomes and more seniors become totally dependent on others, the number of elderly victims of financial abuse will increase, Edward said.

“In my experience, the typical victim does not read or understand his or her monthly (bank) statement and implicitly trusts the son or daughter with the fiduciary responsibility of managing his or her finances,” Edward said.

While he has seen a growing number of familial fraud cases, Edward says there are likely more that go unreported.

Seniors also are less likely to report a fraud, because they might be ashamed at having been scammed or don’t realize they have been victimized. They also might be concerned that relatives will think they no longer have the capacity to care for themselves.

Bellingham Police Lt. Danette Beckley said she is aware of at least a couple of cases of familial fraud in Bellingham involving elderly parents. In one instance, a son was given the power of attorney and bilked his elderly mother out of thousands of dollars.   (Click to Continue)

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Advice for the ‘handshake’ generation: Stay connected, stay safe from scammers

1 comment:

StandUp said...

Another testament to the horrible effects of isolation by court-appointed guardians and why it should be classified as a crime.