Elder Fraud on the Rise – North Carolinians No Exception

Fraud & Financial Abuse

It’s an unfortunate reality that, as people get older, they find themselves at a heightened risk of becoming victims of elder abuse.  Recent studies have shown that elder abuse is an increasingly prevalent phenomenon.  While elder abuse can occur in many forms, including physical and emotional abuse and neglect, elder fraud poses a particularly strong danger for many aging citizens.  The 2010 “Elder Investor Fraud Survey” conducted by the Investor Protection Trust showed that one out of every five citizens over the age of 65 has fallen victim to financial fraud.  A 2011 study conducted by MetLife showed that Americans over the age of 60 had been conned out of approximately $2.9 billion in 2010.  Most victims fall between the ages of 80 and 89, with the majority being women.

Victims of elder fraud often find themselves at the mercy of friends or family members who take advantage of a close relationship, often by misusing a Power of Attorney or abusing credit card privileges, spending beyond permitted limits.  However, as this recent article from SFGate.com shows, there is another form of elder fraud on the rise, and its effects have already been felt in the Triangle.  Raleigh residents Charles and Miriam Parker, both 81 years of age, fell victim to a telemarketing fraud scheme in which the couple wound up losing tens of thousands of dollars.  Taking advantage of their trust and financial needs, their abuser charmed his way into the Parkers’ lives with the promise that, upon sending money to pay for taxes, they would receive the proceeds of a multimillion dollar lottery.  Over the next few years, the Parkers were persuaded to send and relay thousands of dollars and found themselves heavily in debt.  For the Parkers’ children, perhaps the most frightening aspect of the Parkers’ situation was their denial of being victimized.  Even after their children stepped in with law enforcement in an intervention meeting, the Parkers adhered to their belief that their “investment” soon would pay off.
The Parkers’ story sheds light on a danger that many elder citizens could face during their later years in life.  While the Parkers were lucky enough to have children close-by who eventually were able to put a stop to their parents’ troubles, many elder Americans are isolated, living far away from children and other family members who could keep an eye out for their loved ones.  As more instances of elder fraud continue to occur, it’s important to keep both elderly citizens and their loved ones educated about the warning signs to watch out for to avoid similar misfortune.
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