Results of a study entitled “Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Survey” were released on June 13, 2012. 762 responses from primarily state securities regulators, adult protective services workers, social workers, medical professionals, and financial planners provided an unequivocal message that the elderly are being taken advantage of to an alarming degree.
The results include:
- 96% of the respondents believe the problem of elderly investment fraud/financial exploitation is serious or somewhat serious. 70% thought the problem was in the more severe of these two categories.
- Nearly every respondent thought that older Americans are very vulnerable or somewhat vulnerable to investment fraud/financial exploitation today. 75% thought the problem was in the more severe of these two categories.
- Financial frauds against the elderly go unreported primarily because of (i) shame on the part of the victims, (ii) the ability of con artists to string victims along until it is too late, and (iii) the failure of adult children to spot the problem and intervene.
- The study noted that a separate “2008 study found that about 35 percent of the 25 million people over age 71 in the U.S. either have mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease, making them especially vulnerable to financial exploitation, including investment fraud.” Over 80% of the respondents thought that their experience was consistent with these findings.
Healthcare providers, regulators, caregivers, and financial advisors need to be particularly aware of the possibility of financial fraud being perpetrated on the elderly.