Thieves follow the money, and wealth accumulates as we age. But the aging brain is not always well-suited to financial decision-making – and that creates opportunity for financial fraud and abuse targeting the elderly.
“It’s a perfect storm,” said Elizabeth Loewy, general counsel for Eversafe, a technology firm that monitors customers’ bank and investment accounts, credit cards and credit reports for potential fraud and abuse.
Loewy has been in the frontlines of the fight against elder financial fraud and abuse for a long time. She pioneered prosecution of these cases during 29 years as an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
“When the office got started prosecuting elder abuse, we thought most of the cases would be physical abuse or domestic violence, but we quickly saw that it usually involved some kind of fraud or larceny,” she said.
Today, there is broad recognition that seniors are vulnerable to financial fraud that can devastate household balance sheets. Almost one in five Americans over the age of 65 has been taken advantage of through inappropriate investments, unreasonably high fees for financial services, or fraud, according to a study last year by the Investor Protection Trust, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.
A broad range of professionals who work with the elderly are stepping up their anti-abuse efforts.