When I was a child, my grandparents were my heroes. I think most kids feel that way and until they passed on, my grandparents were always heroes to me. It is probably more so today with many kids being raised by their grandparents.
Unfortunately, for many reasons, our elderly citizens are also our most vulnerable population group. This month Consumers Reports claims that seniors are losing billions of dollars annually each year to fraudsters and con men. Call it “elder fraud” or “elder financial abuse,” it is a problem that is growing worse.
As fraud recovery lawyers, we usually take on cases against banks, dishonest lawyers or stockbrokers. Elder abuse takes many forms, however, and the statistics are pretty depressing.
By one study, one in five (20%) seniors report being the victim of a financial scam. (When my mother was still living on her own but obviously showing early signs of dementia, a “home improvement” contractor tried to charge her $7000 to paint a small alcove in her home!)
Accurate statistics are hard to obtain. Many seniors are too embarrassed to report elder fraud cases and sometimes the perpetrator is a family member making reporting even more difficult. Worse, some victims do not even know they were defrauded.
Although we don’t have exact statistics, we do know the elder fraud problem is getting worse. The Federal Trade Commission reports that between 2012 and 2014, elder fraud claims rose 47%.
We are proud of our small role in helping protect America’s most valuable asset – her people – but it is a job for all of society, not just lawyers. One of the best defenses is an active and caring family.
In our practice we helped a 92-year-old widow who was asked by a banker to sign a personal guarantee for her daughter. She was told that the bank needed the guarantee in order to extend credit to her daughter. They never explained the paperwork, gave her an opportunity to review or told her that the bank had already decided not to extend more credit to her daughter.
Days after she signed the guarantee, the bank called the note and attempted to foreclose on the widow’s homestead.
Unfortunately, these cases occur everyday.
Frequently we see cases where stockbrokers put older clients into ridiculous investments. The investments are not chosen because they are suitable or make good economic sense, they are chosen because they pay above average commissions to the stockbrokers.
If a bank, lawyer or stockbroker has victimized you or a loved one, give us a call. Those are the types cases where we can help. How can you help? The first step is taking an active role in watching over your loved ones We also suggest you consider the following:
- joint signatures on bank withdrawals
- blocking telemarketing calls
- letting your loved ones know they can discuss money issues
- promptly reporting suspicions
- demanding lawmakers and judges focus on elder fraud and vulnerable populations
Protecting our heroes. Together we can turn the tide.
Have a potential legal malpractice or elder fraud claim? Give us a call. Our usual minimum loss amount is $250,000. Stockbroker fraud and some other fraud cases are handled nationwide and with local counsel. Most can be handled on a contingent fee basis meaning no legal fees unless we win and collect.
MahanyLaw – America’s Fraud Recovery Lawyers