Learn to spot, stop, and prevent financial harm
By Maureen Mahoney on Friday, October 10th, 2014
Long considered a taboo subject, several high-profile incidents of elder financial abuse have brought this problem to the public’s attention over the last few years.
Movie star Mickey Rooney raised awareness about the issue after his stepson and his stepson’s wife were sued for stealing from him. The son of philanthropist Brooke Astor made headlines when he was arrested and convicted for stealing millions of dollars from her over the last years of her life. And author Harper Lee settled with a literary agent for allegedly tricking her into giving him her “To Kill a Mockingbird” copyright in 2007.
As Consumer Reports points out, it’s not just the rich and famous who are vulnerable to this type of abuse. Elder financial abuse can affect anyone over 60 whose assets are targeted by a family member, friend, or even a stranger. For example, Arthur Green gave his house to his granddaughter with the understanding that he could stay there for the rest of his life. Arthur says that with a “snap of the fingers she changed, she got money hungry.” His granddaughter turned around and tried to sell the house – his only significant asset — and kick him out.
Other seniors have told us that they’ve been targeted by scammers who threaten their financial security. One of the most common scams, known as the “grandparents scam,” exploits seniors’ desire to help others and their strong relationships with their grandchildren. Wendell of Bayside, CA describes his experience with the grandparents scam:
“We had a phone call reportedly from our Grandson. He said he got into a little trouble last night and was stopped by the police for drinking and driving. I just had a few beers and that’s all. My buddy was driving my car and I was just a passenger but of course the car was registered to me. Please don’t tell my parents about this situation. We ended up in detention and I need some money to get out. If you could send me $300 to my buddy’s address this would be enough to get us out of this mess. Again please don’t tell anyone about this problem we are having. When my wife started questioning him further about the car and the address he hung up. Just another scam and this has happened to some friends of ours costing them a couple thousand dollars.”
You can push back against elder financial exploitation by learning how to detect it and shut it down. Please invite your family and friends and join us at the Institute on Aging/Tideswell at UCSF Panel on Elder Financial Exploitation, which includes Consumers Union’s Christina Tetreault. It will be held at the Institute on Aging’s Weinberg Auditorium in San Francisco, on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, from 6-8 pm. Refreshments will be provided!