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Financial fraud & elderly parents

Financial fraud against the elderly is growing, and it’s a new reality for many baby boomers and their aging parents. A new documentary titled Last Will and Embezzlement highlights the crime of elder financial exploitation, offering insight into how incidences of elder fraud are rapidly rising.

The film includes former child actor Mickey Rooney, 91, who reveals details of his own experiences with financial fraud at the hands of a nephew. One of the film’s producers, Pamela Glasner, recalls how her father – a veteran with dementia – was persuaded by a complete stranger to sign over power of attorney. The perpetrator then took her father’s savings, his Florida home and his personal belongings.

A study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute says that 20% of Americans over the age of 65 have already been victims of financial fraud, and it costs these victims more than $3 billion a year in losses. The figure and the number of victims are likely much higher, however, because many elder abuse crimes are never reported to authorities.

Another estimate on elder financial fraud by Consumer Action, a consumer education and advocacy group, shows that while seniors 60 and older make up 15 percent of the U.S. population, they account for roughly 40 percent of fraud victims.

Sometimes elder financial fraud is perpetrated by strangers, but people in a position of trust – including family members, caregivers, and friends – also are the culprits in many cases.

Aging experts contend that seniors are especially vulnerable to financial fraud because they tend to be home more often, are typically alone and often isolated from their family.  Technology has only made elder financial fraud easier, allowing criminals to target seniors using Internet mapping and personal identification tools.

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