There are a variety of ways that hucksters and scammers prey on the elderly. Many nursing home residents are elderly and are vulnerable to financial fraud schemes. Special care should be taken to ensure that they are not abused financially by strangers or nursing home staff members.
Frauds perpetrated by strangers can take place after only a few meetings or encounters. Scammers are especially adept at gaining the confidence of a new “mark”, and will often make their move quickly so as not to waste time. Keeping an eye out for any new friends or visitors that a nursing home resident might have is one way to stay a step ahead, as is talking to seniors about the types of scams perpetrated by seemingly nice individuals.
Some common fraud scams most often perpetrated by strangers include:
- Claims that a resident has won prizes or a sweepstakes. This is a common scam where the “winner” has to send in money to cover taxes, shipping or processing fees in order to receive their prize. Either nothing comes in return for the fee paid, or the items that arrive are cheap and practically worthless.
- Investment scams. These scams are attractive to the elderly because many live on a fixed income and are eager to increase the value of their estate. Scammers convince seniors to invest in investment vehicles that turn out to be worthless or unprofitable.
- Fraudulent charity contributions. Seniors are sometimes convinced to give money to fake charities or religious organizations. The scammer just pockets the money.
- Life, health or funeral insurance scams. Fraudsters take advantage of elderly residents desires to leave something behind for their loved ones or to pay for their own health problems or funeral. Sadly, these scams either duplicate existing coverage, don’t provide the promised coverage, or don’t exist at all.
- Miracle cures and health remedies. Since a majority of nursing home residents take prescription medication and are suffering from one or more medical ailments, promises of a miracle cure or outlandish claims made by some health remedies can seem especially attractive. These “cures” are often just sugar pills, or they can even cause side effects that interfere with the individual’s prescription medication.
- Confidence games. Some scammers will try to gain the trust of an elderly resident, and then confide their troubles to the resident. It may be a story about how they just need a little money – that will be paid back – for a sure-fire investment, or they need money to collect lottery winnings. Of course, once the senior gives the scammer money, the scammer disappears.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a elder financial scam, please don’t despair. You can contact a skilled nursing home abuse & neglect attorney like those at Dulaney, Lauer and Thomas to find out how they can help.