Teaching Doctors to Diagnose a Grandma Money Scam

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Senior scams and abuseIt's sad to say, but the elderly are easy prey -- especially for financial scammers.

The elderly often have more assets to attract the attention of those looking for victims. And as people get older, many become a little less sharp, and sometimes considerably weaker, in terms of mental faculties. According to a 2008 Duke University study, about 35% of the 25 million people over age 71 in the U.S. suffer from mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease.

Available assets, vulnerable mental state -- it's the perfect recipe for con artists and scammers who can come in and offer "assistance."

Consider these troubling statistics from the folks at StatisticBrain.com, MetLife (MET), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

  • It's estimated that about 10% of the elderly population was abused in some way in 2010 -- that's nearly 6 million cases.
  • Nearly $3 billion is lost annually to financial abuse of the elderly.
  • Between 2008 and 2010, the amount of money swindled from the elderly rose by 12%.
  • Women are nearly twice as likely to be victims as men.
  • Physical and financial abuse were the second and third most common kinds of abuse, at 16% and 12% of cases, respectively.

It's not all bad news, though. The more aware we are, the more we can do about this problem. While June 15 was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, there's plenty you can do to make sure that the older folks in our lives do not become victims of physical or financial abuse.

Families need to be vigilant with the older folks we care about, keeping an eye out for signs that our loved ones aren't taken advantage of. For example, If you're privy to checkbooks or bank statements, look for unusual transactions, such as large or out-of-the-ordinary payments, perhaps to a caretaker or stranger. (Here are some other signs of abuse that can signal that grandma is being scammed.)

Now, thanks to a new program, you have more people getting trained to spot your loved ones signs of trouble, too.

A New Weapon in the War on Elder Financial Abuse

Doctors and those in the medical field are being trained to be aware of signs of trouble. The nonprofit Investor Protection Trust, for example, has trained 3,000 medical professionals in the U.S. to spot impaired mental capacity in patients. This can be a powerful way to get them help and prevent them from being swindled.

There are other professions that can also help keep an eye on our loved ones. The National Center on Elder Abuse, for example, encourages people to urge their banks to train their tellers to look for signs of financial abuse of the elderly.

Religious leaders can also play a part, teaching their congregations about the issue and looking out for signs of abuse in their flocks.

The newly created Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is even soliciting consumer input on the issue to get a sense of what resources are available (or need to be created) to help the elderly avoid financial fraud.

Learn more:

Motley Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, holds no position in any company mentioned.


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7 Comments

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Paul

Be careful! Oriovaldo Pereira Lima Filho will send ilegal money out of Brazil He uses several companies like Previmil Previdência complementar S/A, CPM (Coordenação de Previdência dos Municípios LTDA) among others, their main target are city halls and public employees! Falsifies documents and convince public employees to sign contracts, then takes the money and leaves the city with empty wallet! Oriovaldo Pereira Lima Filho is investigated in several states and had already ordered his arrest in Brazil.
Oriovaldo Pereira Lima Filho works with Lucimeire da Silva Lima, in Brazil have already scams in various states, justice already decreed his arrest.

May 15 2013 at 8:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

Obamacare will solve the problem - there will be very few elderly people left. Socialized medicine in the U.K. is reportedly killing 130,000 elderly patients a year - death panels uethenize them when they become to "expensive" to treat. With a much bigger population, so many more will be killed by Obamacare. Fewer old people means fewer old people to scam. Thank you Obamacare!

June 22 2012 at 3:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Setanta

so much bs--if you're concerned and have cause--get your name on the bank accts ,power of atty etc and take care of your own family members and talk STRAIGHT to other famiy members to BACK OFF/f_off.
bunch of slobs simply waiting to TAKE what isn't theirs and doesn't BELONG to THEM.
can't even say that modern day society has degenerated to this level as THIS is nothing new.

June 19 2012 at 12:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lifehub

Family and relatives typically scam their elderly, lying in wait for the moment one becomes disabled in some way.

June 19 2012 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lifehub's comment
Setanta

and even the loiyuuhs and prOtective services THE SAME as they have kontrol of the bank accounts etc.

June 19 2012 at 12:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jycrtr

Sadly, it's often a close relative doing the scamming.

June 19 2012 at 10:12 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
in2synergy

I thought they taught doctors "how to" scam money . Like treatment actually provided , padded with extra "treatments" constantly tacked on to the bill. Now you can't even get coherent itemized bills. What about those scammers? Are they in these percentages too?

June 19 2012 at 9:38 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to in2synergy's comment
evd10

This will help the patients keep more of their money which will give the doctors more to steal.

June 19 2012 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply