WMV video file
The number of older individuals living in the United States is growing as a percentage of the total population, and consequently, more people are suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.1 A research report by the AARP Public Policy Institute ("AARP") found that once an individual begins to suffer cognitive impairment, financial skills and judgment are some of the first abilities to decline.2 And, while cognitive decline can be subtle at first, it can advance rapidly.3 Older Americans may live hundreds of miles from their grown children and other relatives. They may have suffered the loss of a spouse, and that spouse may have handled the finances. Older adults may find themselves increasingly isolated, all at a time in their lives when the incidence of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia grows. These developments may leave seniors vulnerable to fraud.4 Con artists frequently target seniors for fraud.5 Scammers may be interested in the savings seniors have accumulated throughout their lives while preparing for retirement.6 They may seek to exploit seniors' feelings of loneliness and isolation.7 Sometimes, the fraud is even committed by a senior's caregiver. Therefore, it is advisable that family and friends of seniors be aware of the warning signs of fraud, especially before seniors experience cognitive impairment.
Warning SignsScam artists may use sophisticated techniques to defraud their victims. In the hopes of gaining their victim's trust, con artists may learn the names of their victim's children, grandchildren and former spouses. They may phone daily and act concerned. Furthermore, scam artists have used extraordinary measures to disguise their scams as legitimate business transactions. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission has found that con artists use special packaging to make their mailings look legitimate as if they were sent from a well-known sweepstakes company or even a government organization.8 Consequently, older Americans may not be aware that they are being exploited or, if they realize it, they may be ashamed.9 Furthermore, seniors may fear losing their independence if they report the fraud.10 These factors may have contributed to a finding by AARP that older Americans are less likely to report that they have been victims of fraud.11 The modern day scammer can be relentless and may target financially disadvantaged individuals until their victims have nothing left. This type of scam is called "last dollar fraud," meaning the crime doesn't stop until the victim is penniless.12 The effects of this type of fraud can be devastating. Start your dialog with parents, older relatives and loved ones today. Initially, they might be concerned by your heightened interest in their personal affairs. Take the time to explain to them why you are concerned and what steps you would like to take, with their permission, to protect their finances. With your loved one's consent, you may be able to identify the warning signs of financial abuse and fraud using the following steps.
To report foreign lottery
fraud call 1-877-876-2455