According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers lost $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022—$2.7 billion more than was reported as lost in 2021. Aggregate losses increased by 44% over one year even though 500,000 fewer reports were filed in 2022. In other words, fraudsters made significantly more per episode of fraud in 2022 than they did in 2021. For all intents and purposes, fraudsters are doing less but stealing more.
The suspected cause of the substantial increase in big “hits” was the intentional targeting of elderly persons. Not only are elderly persons more susceptible to fraud in consideration of expected cognitive decline, but they often have more assets to their name, such as retirement savings earned through decades of hard work. Not only that, but elderly persons’ assets tend to be liquid and movable. Thus, fraudsters see easy targets from whom large sums of money can be stolen in a swift manner. Types of elder abuse include, but are not limited to these sophisticated schemes:
- Threats of criminal prosecution, through which the fraudster coerces the victim to send money or else face fines, imprisonment, or other penalties. These scams often reference the IRS.
- Romance scams, through which fraudsters trick the victim into believing they are in a relationship with the fraudster.
- Investment scams, through which fraudsters convince victims that their money is being invested or protected for the victims benefit.
While financial exploitation of the elderly can take several forms, unchecked schemes inevitably result in the loss of a lot of money, sometimes over the span of several months or years. Because elderly persons are often not able to protect themselves, the question becomes: Who, if anyone, is responsible? The fraudsters usually are not caught, or the money is long gone in the unlikely event that they are. Banks, meanwhile, invariably believe that they are not responsible because—as they see it—it’s not their job to protect their clients from themselves. But from a legal perspective, the correct answer, of course, is far more nuanced.
The lawyers at Kelly Guzzo have successfully handled these cases against the banks that let this happen using various state and federal laws that were enacted to protect the elderly from such abuses.
If you or a loved one is the victim of elder financial exploitation and the bank failed to report it as required by law, you may have a claim. At Kelly Guzzo, we are committed to assisting consumers who are victims of elder abuse or financial exploitation. Please do not hesitate to contact our office to receive a free consultation.