3/30/2016 – State regulators offer training to help spot senior financial abuse

State securities regulators will soon offer training for investment advisers and brokers to help them detect and report financial exploitation of elderly clients.

Next month, the North American Securities Administrators Association will make available to its members a training program called Senior$afe, developed in Maine for bank and credit union employees. The initiative will be modified to apply to other financial services professionals.

The program, created by the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention, includes a presentation highlighting behavioral and account-management changes that may indicate a senior client’s cognitive decline and financial abuse. The other part of the training focuses on reporting incidences within a firm and to outside authorities.

Read the full article here.

3/23/2016 – CFPB resleases advisory for financial institutions on preventing and responding to elder financial exploitation

Today the Consumer Financial Protection Agency released an advisory and report for banks and credit unions on how they can better protect older consumers from financial abuse. Banks and credit unions are in a unique position to prevent financial exploitation of older Americans and to intervene effectively when older account holders are targeted or victimized. After talking with banks, credit unions, police, prosecutors, service providers and government agencies, the CFBP is offering recommendations that financial institutions can put in place to protect their older account holders.

Read the an advisory and report here.

3/22/2016 – The super-rich are also vulnerable to elder financial abuse

Just before the release of a survey about elder financial abuse, an arbitration panel awarded $34 million in damages, including hearing costs, to the estate of Roy M. Speer, a co-founder of the Home Shopping Network. The award is further proof that rich people are just as vulnerable to financial exploitation as anyone else. In fact, their immense wealth can make them even more susceptible. The case involved the investment firm Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and two stockbrokers. Speer died in 2012. His wife, Lynnda, brought a claim against the company, arguing that her husband’s estate and his foundation funds had been mismanaged.

Read the full story here.

3/22/2016 – Rise in Fraud Reports is Unrelenting

A nearly three-fold increase over the past decade in the number of fraud and related complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission has pushed the total to 1.7 million filings in 2015, according to the government’s consumer 2015 data book released this month.

Read the full story here.

5/19/2016 – Seniors, don’t fall for this dangerous fraudster trick

If you’re in your 50s or older, chances are good that financial fraudsters have a big red target on your back. That’s because they think you’ve got money to steal and are more likely to fall for the common tricks they deploy to part you from it.

Researchers at Stanford recently analyzed one powerful trick that fraudsters use to persuade you to set aside your normal good judgment: emotional arousal. It turns out that it doesn’t matter whether you’re aroused by negative or positive emotions. In either case, older people are more likely to allow their emotions to cloud and overcome their logical decision-making abilities.

Read the full story here.

2/17/2016 – Fighting Fraud on Multiple Fronts

Your credit card company can send text messages to your mobile device regarding account matters — as long as you have signed up to receive the messages from your issuing financial institution or bank. American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Discover, USAA and Wells Fargo are among the many companies that offer mobile alerts about account activity. The service is typically free, but you may have to pay text-messaging charges from your wireless carrier. If you have not specifically signed up for text alerts, any messages sent to your phone concerning “deactivated,” “blocked” or “locked” accounts and asking you to call a supplied telephone number are most certainly frauds.

Read the full NYT story here.

3/10/2016 – How to prevent credit card fraud

If you want to prevent credit card fraud, then you need to know how credit card companies treat fraud, the procedures for dealing with it, and your rights and responsibilities when it comes to unauthorized charges. This guide will walk you through the types of fraud you’re likely to encounter, spotting fraud when it happens, and reporting it to the proper authorities.

Read the full article here.

5/7/2016 – Senators Seek Help for Older Americans Tricked Into Smuggling Drugs

“We find it terribly unfair that an older American who by all indications is a victim and did not understand that he was being used to transport illegal drugs remains incarcerated abroad while the criminals who masterminded this scheme remain free,” the senators wrote in a letter released Monday.

The lawmakers added, “Because of his age and poor health, this may be a life sentence for Mr. Martin.”

Mr. Martin is one of several American seniors serving time in foreign prisons after being accused or convicted of drug smuggling. Officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of the Homeland Security say they have discovered a vast international fraud by drug smugglers to deceive older Americans with promises of prizes or relationships, setting them up to unknowingly carry luggage filled with cocaine or other items through customs, hoping they will not arouse suspicion.

Read the full NYT article here.

3/4/2016 – Scam victims aren’t dumb; they’re human

The IRS and Justice Department scams are targeting your cash. The Microsoft scam, which will involve your being duped into downloading an actual virus, is going after your personal information. It’s fair to wonder, who falls for this stuff? “That’s the magic question,” replied Marti DeLiema, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Longevity who focuses on financial fraud. “The answer is, there’s no easy answer.” She said researchers have found little correlation between a person’s age, say, or financial literacy and the likelihood of that same person being taken to the cleaners by con artists.

For example, it might be assumed that seniors are most easily fleeced because they’re so often targeted by fraudsters. But studies by the Federal Trade Commission have found that older consumers are less likely to be victimized than younger consumers, maybe because they’ve been around long enough to spot a pig in a poke.

Read the full LA Times article here.

3/3/2015 – Nigerian Scammer Convicted Of On-Line Romance Fraud

After two days of testimony from a dozen witnesses at his criminal trial in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois, Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, 32, of Lagos, Nigeria, changed his plea on March 2, 2016, from “not guilty” to “guilty” on all eight counts of the federal indictment, James L. Porter, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois announced.

“Basically, the evidence established that Sunmola, a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was the ringleader of a criminal organization operating within South Africa that targeted and stole from hundreds of women across the United States, including dozens in the St. Louis metropolitan area.” noted Acting United states Attorney Porter. “Our office will continue to pursue justice for these victims in Sunmola’s prison sentence and in our never-ending efforts to get restitution.”

Read the press release here.