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July 12, 2012

Experts Warn of Financial Fraud (USA)

Experts warn of financial fraud
JASON POWERS / Tulsa World
By PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
7/11/2012  

A major new survey of 762 experts on financial exploitation of the elderly, conducted by the nonprofit Investor Protection Trust, showed 84 percent of them agree that "the problem of swindles targeting the elderly is getting worse today."
Survey participants included securities regulators, adult protective services workers, medical professionals, law enforcement officials and others on the front lines of elder financial abuse prevention.

Nearly all respondents said 75 percent of older Americans are "very vulnerable" and that 24 percent are "somewhat vulnerable" to financial swindles.

Senior financial fraud: Released last month in conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the IPT survey ( tulsaworld.com/IPTelderinvestfraud) also found that 58 percent deal with elderly victims of investment fraud/financial exploitation "quite often" or "somewhat often" and 96 percent say the problem of elderly investment fraud/financial exploitation in the U.S. is "very serious" (70 percent) or "somewhat serious" (26 percent). A 2010 IPT Elder Fraud Survey ( tulsaworld.com/IPT2010survey) revealed 7 million older Americans - one of every five people over 65 - were already swindle victims.

"The message from those on the front lines of investor protection is swindles targeting older Americans are a bigger problem than ever before," said Don Blandin, IPT president and CEO. "We have trained 3,000 U.S. medical professionals who deal every day with older Americans to spot the impaired mental capacity that can leave seniors vulnerable to financial abuse. We must prevent financial swindles before the damage is done."

Oklahoma law: When someone uses coercion, harassment or deception to misuse or steal an older person's money or property, that is "elder financial exploitation." Oklahoma Title 43A Chapter 1 Section 10-103, the "Protective Services for Vulnerable Adults Act" - tulsaworld.com/OKSrabuselaw - makes exploiting an elderly or vulnerable adult, under another person's care, a felony.

Violation of Title 21 Chapter 30 Section 843.1, the Oklahoma "Abuse, Neglect or Financial Exploitation by Caretaker Act" - tulsaworld.com/OKSr$abuselaw - excluding sexual abuse, is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.

DHS enforcement: In Oklahoma, the Department of Human Services' Adult Protective Services ( tulsaworld.com/OKDHSSrlaw) largely is in charge of enforcing these two laws. They define "elder abuse" as "any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult."

Warning signs of elderly financial abuse: The APS lists the following signs: Frequent expensive gifts from vulnerable adult to caregiver; vulnerable adult's personal belongings, papers, credit cards missing; many unpaid bills; a recent will when vulnerable adult seems incapable of writing a will; signing over deeds to property; caregiver's name added to bank account; vulnerable adult unaware of monthly income; vulnerable adult signs on loan; frequent checks made out to "cash;" unusual activity in bank account; irregularities on tax returns; vulnerable adult unaware of reason for appointment with banker or attorney; caregiver's refusal to spend money on vulnerable adult; or signatures on checks or legal documents that do not resemble vulnerable adult's.

Abridged
SOURCE:      The TulsaWorld

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