elder fraud

BEWARE of this Craigslist scam

Posted on Updated on

Garage saleI’ve used Craigslist once.  I announced a garage sale from which all proceeds would be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.  I felt safe advertising the sale because a) it was only scheduled for six hours on a Saturday; and b) several friends and supporters were on site throughout the entire sale so I wasn’t alone.  (And of course all items were outside and there was no access to the inside of our house.)  The garage sale was a huge success but I haven’t used Craigslist since.

I’m sure many of you have either listed something for sale or purchased an item that was for sale on Craigslist and were very pleased: the money exchanged hands and both parties benefited from the online service.

That was not the case for an acquaintance of mine who was recently set up for a scam but was smart enough to realize that if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, it’s probably a rat.  (Bad analogy, but you get my point.)  Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Welcome to the year 2015!

Posted on Updated on

2015 New Years

If you’re like me, you’re wondering how another year has slipped by so quickly.  I’m sure there were a few of the 52 weeks that seemed to slog by, but all in all we can now look back and marvel at what we accomplished, or what others accomplished in our stead, during the past 365 days.

An accomplishment with which I’m happy is having authored this blog for the past three and a half years.  I’ve provided this blog for you, but I’ve also provided it for me because I truly enjoy having the opportunity to share my experiences and my viewpoints; I hope in the process that I have encouraged, helped, and entertained you.  From the start of Baby Boomers and More in 2011 to the end of 2014, I posted 520 articles.  I’d be a very happy blogger if the quality of those articles surpassed the quantity because if I’m just talking into thin air without benefit to others, its hardly worth the space my blog occupies.

Here are links to the five most visited articles in the year 2014 based on WordPress statistics:
Read the rest of this entry »

Blogger Awards for You and Me!

Posted on Updated on

Thank you “Let’s Talk About Family” fellow-blogger for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  That’s the kind of feedback I like!  More importantly, everyone should check out her Blog because her insights into the ups, and downs, of caring for parents is very insightful and well worth following.

I have been so blessed by the input I receive from the many Blogs that I follow.  I’m going to use this opportunity to make some nominations as well! (I could list many, many more, but to begin with at least, I’ll list just a few that always stand out to me.)  First of all the steps that the nominees need to take to award others who are worthy of singling out:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you for an award;
  2. Copy & paste the award logos in your blog, as well as in the sections devoted to your nominations, below;
  3. Be certain to link the person who nominated you for an award; in my case, you’ll see that I’ve linked “Let’s Talk About Family” when I thanked her for nominating me;
  4. Nominate your own choices for awards;
  5. Place links to their Blogsites so that others can view their fine work;
  6. Say a few things about yourself so that others understand a bit more as to where you’re coming from – and where you’re going:
  • My first name is Irene and I live in the Seattle, Washington area.
  • I’m a Baby Boomer who loves to share knowledge about the challenges, and delights, of being in this age group.
  • My working background of the past 20 years includes being a paralegal in law firms as well as for corporations; an Executive Assistant and Office Manager for a senior housing company; a Business Manager in an assisted living/dementia care facility; an Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group facilitator; and a certified long-term care (LTC) ombudsman for the county in which I live.
  • I became a LTC ombudsman in 2008, thereby leaving the senior housing industry, because in my mind one can never do enough for the vulnerable adults who live in long-term care residential facilities.  In order to assure that vulnerable residents experience a dignified existence and a high quality of life, I had to switch sides and become their advocate.
  • I will always try to write something about which I am familiar and that I have also experienced.  I’m not an expert, but my goal is to always provide input that I hope will prove valuable to others.
  • My mother died in 1994 and from 2004 thru 2007  I was the primary long-distance caregiver for my father who lived in an assisted living community’s dementia care unit.

Now onto the award nominations!

Versatile Blogger Awards:

Day by Day with the Big Terrible A (Alzheimer’s, of course.)  This blog is very reader-friendly.  This blogger is a wife who is taking care of her husband.  Her mini-entries very clearly reflect the struggles she, her husband, and her family face but she also makes room to celebrate the little victories that sometimes are hidden within the caregiving struggle.  I think all of us can find comfort in this woman’s efforts, and her ability to describe those efforts deserve 5 Stars!!!

My Simple C.com.  This blog is an online community that seeks to connect professional caregivers with family caregivers.  The resources and suggestions are quite good and are provided without the intent of selling anything.  Virginia Lynn Rudder works for a company called Simple C, but she clearly has a goal of providing information in an easy to read, comprehensive, and supportive manner.

Elder Advocates.  Lark E. Kirkwood experienced something that no one should ever have to experience.  A guardianship was put in place limiting access to her father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and who has subsequently passed on.  Please visit her site because she provides many valuable resources relating to a prevailing problem for vulnerable adults: elder abuse & fraud.

BEAUTIFUL BLOGGER AWARD.

Flickr Comments by FrizzText.  This Blogger really knows how to take a photo and knows how to find them so that we can take a break in our very busy days and simply enjoy his view on our world.  Please make a point of stopping by and you’ll be representing one of the more than 100 countries that partake of his Blog site.

80 Year Old Woman with Dementia Dumped at the ER by Nursing Home

Posted on Updated on

80 Year Old Woman with Dementia Dumped at the ER by Nursing Home.

This story will horrify you as it does me.  This unethical, criminal, hideous, inhumane action helps to explain why I am committed to my volunteer job as a Long-Term Care Ombudsman (an advocate for residents in long-term care facilities.)  God help the person who ever attempts such a thing with one of my loved ones.

Financial fraud against the elderly: it’s a family affair.

Posted on Updated on

A trusted family member would NEVER financially exploit their loved one – right?

WRONG.

All classes of people, and most age groups, become victims of financial fraud.  The elderly, however, have been hit particularly hard.  A recent Puget Sound Business Journal article (a Washington State publication) provides some astounding statistics for the state of Washington:

  • reports of elder abuse grew by 30% in five years;
  • 4,121 cases were reported to Adult Protective Services in all of 2010 and that number was already reached by November of 2011;
  • the Washington State Office of the Attorney General only receives a fraction of the financial abuse cases because many go unreported; and
  • the National Center of Elder Abuse in Washington, D.C. states that only one in 25 cases of elder abuse are ever reported.

So who are the perpetrators?  These thieves are neighbors, caregivers (family related or not), best friends, and  trusted financial professionals.

But nationally, nine out of 10 financial exploitation cases involve family members. 

This type of abuse begins innocently enough “let me help you pay your monthly bills mother.”   The adult child becomes a signatory on the bank accounts, keeps up with mom’s bills, but also pays him or herself a little here and there and before you know it, mom doesn’t have the financial means to live out her days.  Certainly most family members are trustworthy and respectful of their elders and look out for their elders’ best interests but the statistics certainly paint a horrific picture, don’t they?  And what’s worse, if the elderly victim has Alzheimer’s or other dementia, it doesn’t take much effort for anyone – family or stranger  –  to enrich their own bank account while draining mom and dad’s.

It’s virtually impossible for government agencies to monitor cases of elder abuse.  The local agencies that help the indigent elderly are strapped financially.  Budgets are being cut resulting in decreased staffing, and caseloads that are unmanageable and overlooked – but not for lack of trying!

So what can you do to protect those vulnerable adult victims that seemingly go unnoticed in our local communities?  I provide some suggestions in my blog article, Elder Fraud: a few things you can do to protect your loved one.  This article assumes that family members are trustworthy and selfless in their interests.  Fortunately, that’s probably you, but obviously, elder fraud is a national problem so it’s vital that everyone be reminded of how easily thieves can take advantage of the older generation.

I’m certain this topic affects many of you and at the very least, angers the rest of you.  I covet your input and look forward to your thoughts on this matter.

Elder Fraud: a few things you can do to protect your loved one.

Posted on Updated on

A senior citizen receives mail that promises her the opportunity to receive a $10,000 Sweepstakes check but first she has to send the organization a $25 check or she is told to wire money in order to receive the proffered $10K.  This same lonely person receives CONSTANT phone calls in which many demands are placed upon her to send money or they will come to her residence and cause her bodily harm.

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell your loved one to hang up when she receives one of these calls.  It doesn’t matter how many times you try to convince her that responding to the mail and/or the phone calls will not net her any positive financial results.  She always responds, and because she’s still able to mail a check or drive to Western Union and wire money to these nefarious people, she keeps doing so and finds herself in a heap of financial trouble.

Let’s consider the following mail fraud scenario:  at a long-term care (LTC) facility, the staff, along with the resident’s family members, changed the resident’s phone number numerous times and rerouted her mail to go elsewhere, but because of the persistence and trickery of these unscrupulous people, they always managed to get through the filters set up to eradicate them.  This particular resident’s apartment was finally searched by staff, at the suggestion of local law enforcement and with the permission of the resident, and what they found would make your blood boil.  This resident had shoe boxes full of “Sweepstakes” documents, and once the apartment had been cleaned out, over a dozen large garbage bags filled with documents had been removed.  Once this resident responded to these criminals by sending money, they had a victim upon which they could rely.

I’m not going to address the issue of identity theft per se which is another prevalent type of fraud exacted upon elderly adults.  Let’s concentrate on mail fraud which can certainly lead to identity theft.  With mail fraud, which eventually can lead to  “phone fraud,” the victim in question is oftentimes isolated, lonely, and as most senior citizens will tell you,  is worried about having enough money to get her through her later years.  The promise of a $10,000, or higher, windfall is just too good to resist.  Let’s be honest with ourselves – we can’t resist this type of temptation either.  If you’ve ever purchased a lottery ticket, and I’ve purchased many, you hope beyond all reason that this time the lottery ticket will have the winning numbers, because after all – somebody has to win!  When you’re a senior citizen and money is tight, why not hope beyond all hope that the $10K Sweepstakes could be real, as unlikely as that may seem to us?

 So how does one put safeguards in place to ward off these types of criminals?

My sister-in-law and my father in front of his desk.

If you live close enough to your elderly loved one, have a look-see around their living space.  Do you see any piles of envelopes that look suspiciously like one of these mail fraud schemes?  When my father lived in a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility, as he left the room to use the bathroom and/or to take a nap, I did some Irene-sized investigative work.  I didn’t stop at simply looking at what was on top of his desk, I rummaged through the drawers.  I looked at his checkbook register for suspicious outgoing checks (there were a few.)  I tried to discern if there were any Sweepstakes letters from repeat offenders who thanked him for his previous money submission and asking for more – again, there were a few.  I know that this investigative activity reeks of privacy invasion but if that meant protecting my very generous father who was in the early stages of dementia – I was willing to do so.  And I didn’t stop there.  I cleared his desk of all but one or two Sweepstakes envelopes so he wouldn’t notice that absolutely everything was gone, and I stuffed them in my backpack and took them home to shred.  If you don’t live close enough to visit on an ongoing basis and suspect that your parent who lives in a long-term care facility is succumbing to this type of mail fraud, call a staff department head and ask him/her to have a look at what is visible on top of your loved one’s desk/coffee table.  You shouldn’t ask staff members to open drawers – that’s inappropriate and is actually against most facilities’ resident privacy policies.  Once you are aware of a concerning outcome, then you can take steps to provide personal intervention on your loved one’s behalf.  A phone call to the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office located near your loved one will initiate a complaint and that office will attempt to resolve this matter on behalf of the resident – your family member.

Phone fraud harassment – one step closer to elder abuse.

I became aware of a woman who received numerous calls a week from these scammers, threatening her with bodily harm if she didn’t wire the requested funds.  These criminals have no conscience whatsoever so they aren’t shy about yelling at the elderly victim; making fun of them when they cry on the phone because they’re afraid of the threats; calling the elderly person a loser and that they’ll never have enough money to carry them through the remainder of their pitiful lives.  As cumbersome as it may be, I strongly suggest you have your loved one’s phone number changed.  Only those who need to have the number: family, close friends, medical personnel, and facility administration, should be given the new number.  You may have to do this several times before the stream of fraudster phone calls come to an end.

Resources on which you can rely.

The AARP website has links to resources that are very informational regarding elder fraud.  Once you access their website you can link to the chapter that is active in your local area and you’ll find contact numbers for Fraud Fighter reporting.  Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office (Washington State website linked here) is very helpful.  Not only can you report cases of fraud through their website, you will also find a list of scams currently making the rounds.  Let’s not forget the U.S. Postal Service as well.    They have a postal inspection division that walks you through the steps of preventing and/or eliminating mail fraud.  I think once you start typing elder fraud into an internet search engine, you’ll find numerous links, such as The Elder Fraud Project, that will prove helpful.

Whatever you do – don’t sit idle and ignore the signs of mail fraud.  I can guarantee you that the scammers trying to acquire as much of your loved one’s money as possible are not idle – they’re hard at work to enrich themselves at your loved one’s financial expense.