Thursday, 13 June 2013

Financial Elder Abuse is Rampant


The Orange County Adult Protective Services Offices reports 800 calls per month involving some type of physical, emotional, or financial elder abuse, with the latter being the most prevalent.  However, the public is fighting back.  Many media outlets, including the NY Times and Reporter Dan Rather are bringing the schemes and scams perpetrated against the elderly into the public eye.  “The grandparent scam” is a particularly successful scam that is praying upon the emotional tie of a  grandparent to a grandchild.  Perhaps you have heard of it?  The target grandparent is called early in the morning – the caller is very muffled or has a bad connection – and plaintively says “Grandma I need your help.” The grandparent’s inclination is then to say a name of a grandchild – “Emily, is that you?” – and the scam is off and running.

The scammer has usually done their homework via a Facebook page and uses that information to sound convincing.  Before you know it, the grandparent is off to wire money to bail “Emily” out of some sticky situation, usually a DUI or stolen money scenario.   Once the urgency has worn off, common sense often kicks in and the target begins to doubt the veracity of the call.  They may now check to see if their grandchild is truly in trouble only to now discover it was all a scam. Such was the case with the Long-term Care Ombudsmen Director Kathleen Weidner’s father. Often times the target is too embarrassed to tell anyone what has happened and so the crime flourishes.

If this happens to you or someone you know, report it to local law enforcement and help stop this crime wave.  You may not be able to get your money back, but you may help someone else from being victimized.

Julie Schoen
Director of Elder Abuse Prevention Services