Each year, an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected, or exploited.
Older Americans lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation, according to a recent study
Unfortunately, it occurs in every demographic and can happen to anyone—a family member, a neighbor, even you. It is estimated that only one in five of these crimes are discovered.
Sadly, this is a number that seems to be growing.
Last week, a woman and her boyfriend scammed an 82-year-old out of his life savings to fuel their drug habit.
The man, U.S. Coast Guard veteran, told a crisis line he wanted to kill himself over his empty bank account, authorities said.
Jessica Henry, 31, and Gregory Dushan, 28, stole more than $50,000, DeLand police said in a news release.
The couple allegedly spent more than $500 of the money on drugs daily.
After the scam, the veteran called the Veterans Crisis Center and explained that his bank account had a negative balance. He told the agency that he felt the only solution was to end his life.
When hearing that, the center immediately called police.
The victim told police officers that met Jessica Henry three years ago. He gave the woman money after she claimed she wasn’t able to feed her children and didn’t have transportation to take them to school, the press release said.
Six months ago, Jessica Henry contacted the veteran again. She said she needed $350 a day to pay for urine tests as part of her probation for a recent arrest, WKMG-TV reported.
Gregory Dushan claimed to be Henry’s probation officer. He called the victim on a daily basis, to demand between $150 and $1,000.
If the veteran refused, Gregory Dushan threated to seize his car and throw him in jail. The “probation officer” also said he would have the SWAT team kick down his doors if he did not pay Henry’s fees.
The couple were charged with exploiting an elderly person between amounts of $20,000 and $100,000.
DeLand Police Department is now looking into ways to help the 82-year-old, who has been unable to pay his rent because of the incident.
If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it — waiting could only make it worse!
And if you know or care for an older adult, here are some additional warning signs that may indicate they are the victim of financial abuse.
- There are unusual recent changes in the person’s accounts, including atypical withdrawals, new person(s) added, or sudden use of a senior’s ATM or credit card.
- The senior suddenly appears confused, unkempt, and afraid.
- Utility, rent, mortgage, medical, or other essential bills are unpaid despite adequate income.
- A caregiver will not allow others access to the senior.
- There are piled up sweepstakes mailings, magazine subscriptions, or “free gifts,” which means they may be on “sucker lists.”
Sadly, con artists often have an easy time scamming people out of their money, especially the elderly.
It’s important for families to talk with their elderly loved ones about these potential scams and to encourage them not to ever feel pressured to transfer money or give up their banking account and other personal information over the phone or email.
All it takes is a few minutes to call someone they trust or contact authorities to check up on whether or not a situation is legitimate. Scammers prey on people who are trusting and easily rushed into action without question. Don’t let that be someone you care about – share this on Facebook!