By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Wednesday, The Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Task Force held a forum at the Center City Free Library Branch.

A panel of experts gave seniors and caregivers some real-life cautionary tales of victimization, along with helpful tips on how to recognize financial predators and avoid being ripped off. Homeland Security’s Ken Spaide says most scam artists are based overseas and they’re becoming more and more sophisticated.

“With all the outsourcing from U.S. companies that have put their call service centers in foreign countries, these people are now being taught the art of customer service, the art of salesmanship,” he said. “They know how to talk to U.S. citizens, they know how to be nice to them, be polite and courteous.”

Spaide says a troubling new technique involves using unwitting seniors as drug mules by disguising the drugs as gifts or hiding them in the walls of luggage. Dozens of people have been arrested overseas, including some innocent U.S. citizens who got caught up in the scams.

With so much personal information available on social media, he says it’s pretty easy for crooks to set up the elderly by, say, posing as a loved one claiming to have been arrested in a foreign country.

You can report suspected elder abuse to Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Older Adult Protective Services by calling 215-765-9040.