Financial Abuse Runs Rampant among Elderly
It is a sad fact that elderly Americans are often severely mistreated. The elderly are abused and taken advantage of not only by strangers but also by the people who are supposed to be caring for them.
It is estimated that about four million older Americans become the victims of various forms of abuse. Unfortunately, this number is likely just the tip of the iceberg: the American Psychological Association estimates that, for every abuse case reported to the authorities, 23 cases go unnoticed.
Financial harm is a particularly common form of abuse, according to an article written by William Arnold, professor at Arizona State University, and the amount stolen is staggering.
In 2010, a Tucson woman scammed a 92-year-old man out of nearly $3 million.
A MetLife study found that the financial loss suffered by the elderly as a result of financial abuse was $2.9 billion in 2011 (up from $2.6 billion in 2008).
The elderly are prime targets for abusers because they often live alone or are dependent on others. The MetLife study found that most victims were female, between the ages of 80 and 89, and lived by themselves. 51 percent of the perpetrators were strangers, while family came in at a close second at 34 percent.
Financial elder abuse can include a wide range of crimes, including fraud, stealing money under false pretenses, forgery, property transfers, or denial of funds. The crimes typically fall under one of three categories: crimes of opportunity, crimes of desperation, and predation.
Crimes of opportunity occur when the elderly person is in the way of what the abuser wants. Crimes of desperation occur when the abuser desperately needs money and will steal from the older person to get it. And predation occurs when strangers or family prey on the elderly, either through a scam or through a misused legal authority (guardianship, power of attorney, etc.).
If you believe that your loved one is the victim of financial abuse, you may report the abuse by contacting Adult Protective Services or call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116. You may also want to contact an elder abuse attorney. If you have any questions or believe you or your loved one is the victim of financial exploitation or abuse, please contact us. Arizona has helpful remedies to protect against and remedy elder abuse and neglect.