PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Scams and frauds that exploit senior citizens are becoming more common and many times the crimes go unreported.
“I know I’m up in age right now, but you have to get up just a little bit earlier, if you think you can scam me.”
Seventy-four year old Jeannette Liggons is a savvy senior. She’s heard about the pigeon-drop, the grandma and the lottery scams played on her unknowing peers.
“I have them to call with a scam about winning a trip and all of that. And then when I began to question him, he was ready to hang up.”
But not all seniors are as perceptive as Ms. Liggons.
“The elderly are vulnerable because often times, seniors are home, they’re alone and a lot of times they’re isolated and they’re looking for some type of interaction,” said Jennifer Braude.
Braude is a victim advocate at the Center for Advocacy of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, a group that advocates on behalf of and educates the elderly. She says scams have a major financial impact nationwide and can be devastating.
“It is estimated that almost $3 billion dollars per year is taken from seniors,” said Braude.
“There’s sometimes a reluctance on the part of the elders to prosecute.”
Philadelphia Police Sgt Joe Cella supervises the Crimes Against the Elderly Task Force and says many crimes against seniors go unreported because the perpetrator is usually someone the senior trusts.
“Who then betrays that trust, either by convincing the elder of certain needs with a sob story that many times is not true. In other instances, they forge the signatures of the elders.”
Cella advises families to check references and licenses before hiring caregivers for their elderly loved one and to be diligent.
“Visit your loved one and ask them, can I see and make sure you’re caught up on your bills, etc.”
Prevention is the best way to prevent elder financial abuse. If you or someone you love would like more information on financial and other schemes that affect seniors contact CARIE at http://www.carie.org or 215-545-5728. If you would like information on how you as a caregiver can help your loved one, go to www.caregivergps.org.