David Anderson is principal of David Anderson & Associates, a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of fraud investigation, forensic accounting, and marital dissolution services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.
In the last two week’s blogs, forensic accounting expert David Anderson of David Anderson & Associates, Certified Fraud Examiner in Philadelphia, discussed the top six frauds perpetrated against the elderly (as reported by the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging), and offered tips for helping seniors to avoid such frauds. In this week’s blog, he discusses the final four entries (numbers seven, eight, nine, and 10) in the top ten most frequent frauds targeting seniors.
The seventh-most-frequent fraud is the Romance Scam. Under the Romance Scam, the scammer uses dating sites, chat rooms, social media, and even e-mail to target their victims. More women than men fall victim to this type of scam. The scammer claims to live in either a different part of the United States or abroad.
In one variation of this scam, the scammer claims to be an active duty member of the armed forces and may even copy information from real service members as part of their scam. As the victim and the scammer exchange correspondence/texts/posts/etc., the scammer tells the victim that he/she is falling in love with the victim and wants to meet and even marry. The scammer may even speak on the phone with the victim to reinforce the romance.
Alas, the scammer encounters a problem and needs monetary help from the victim (a medical or legal emergency; problems with visas or passports, etc.). The scammer feigns embarrassment at asking for this help and promises to never ask again. However, a short time later the scammer needs more financial help.
In another variation of this scam, the scammer sends a check to the victim, asks him/her to cash it and forward the proceeds back to the scammer (this usually involves money laundering), or asks the victim to deposit the check and forward the funds to the scammer (eventually costing the victim when the check later bounces).
Seniors should be advised to be wary of anyone who claims to be in love without having met them in person. Furthermore, seniors should be advised to speak with a knowledgeable family member or friend before sending money to an unseen person.
The eighth-most-frequent fraud perpetrated against the elderly is Elder Financial Abuse. Unlike the other frauds on this list, this fraud primarily is perpetrated by family members or friends of the victim. Frequently, family members or guardians will obtain control (either legally or emotionally) of a senior’s assets and income because the senior is no longer able to manage the assets or income.
While most family members or guardians generally will use this control in an honest manner, some will use this as an opportunity to defraud the elderly person (and, by extension, the other beneficiaries of the elderly person’s estate). In 2018, Gloria Byars, a court-appointed guardian for more than 100 elderly people in the Philadelphia area was removed from these guardianships due to her past convictions for fraud as well as other claims of financial exploitation of other elderly clients.
Often, other family members will not become aware of this fraud until after the elderly person has died or suffered from a catastrophic event. A variation of this fraud involves care givers (such as home health aides, nursing home staff, etc.) who gain access to a victim’s checkbook. Another variant has recently been reported in the Philadelphia newspapers involving people who fraudulently transfer ownership of an elderly person’s house.
Also, unlike the other frauds on this list, avoiding this fraud cannot be taught to the victim. Instead it is the family and friends of the victim who must be vigilant and insist on accountability from the person or persons given power of attorney or other control of the senior’s assets and income.
The ninth-most-frequent fraud is Identity Theft. In addition to the ways discussed above and in the two previous blogs of how an elderly person’s financial information can be fraudulently obtained, care givers can also gain access to the senior’s wallet/purse and its financial information. One variation of this fraud involves the victim receiving a call from a scammer claiming to be from one of the credit reporting bureaus. The scammer claims that he/she needs to verify certain financial information in order to update the victim’s credit records.
Along with my recommendations regarding other frauds that seek to obtain a senior’s personal financial information, seniors should consider some type of credit reporting protection or monitoring (for example, www.freecreditreport.com ). Additionally, seniors should be encouraged to scrutinize their monthly credit card and bank statements for unusual and/or unauthorized activity. On additional protection can be requesting that each of the three major credit reporting services place a fraud freeze on the senior’s records.
The 10th-most-frequent fraud is the Government Grant Scam. In this fraud, a scammer calls the victim claiming to be from the non-existent Federal Grants Administration or Federal Grants Department. The scammer claims the victim has been awarded a free government grant. Interestingly, on the same day that I wrote this blog, I received a robocall informing me that I had been awarded a $15,000 government grant. As with the Sweepstakes Scam, the victim merely must pay a small administrative fee (usually $250 to $1,000) for the grant to be processed. Again, after receiving the payment, the scammer will call the victim back, apologizing but stating that there are additional fees/costs which must be paid before the funds can be released to the victim.
Seniors need to be educated that government grants are not given to individuals, and that they should never pay a fee to someone requesting such.
If you suspect an elderly family member may be the victim of elder financial abuse by a relative, friend, guardian or caregiver or if you’d like to learn more about these types of fraud, advice and assistance is available from a Certified Fraud Examiner working with an experienced firm that provides forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. The Philadelphia forensic accounting firm of David Anderson & Associates can be reached by calling David Anderson at 267-207-3597 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About David Anderson & Associates
David Anderson & Associates is a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. The experienced professionals at David Anderson & Associates provide forensic accounting, business valuation, fraud investigation, fraud deterrence, litigation support, economic damage analysis, business consulting, and outsourced CFO services. Company principal David Anderson is a forensic accounting expert who has more than 30 years of experience in financial and operational leadership positions and is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner and a Certified Valuation Analyst.