June 15th was the 15th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Department of Justice observed the date, condemning elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. According to the DOJ, during the COVID-19 pandemic, “when seniors are most vulnerable and isolated from their families and loved ones by social distancing and quarantine restrictions, bad actors have immediately exploited this international tragedy to prey on the elderly through a whole host of scam and fraud schemes.”
Elder Abuse Awareness in Pennsylvania
Robert Torres is the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. The department recently released reopening guidance for senior centers. In a radio interview with WILK, Torres talked about aging and protective services, including in-person contacts and home visits. Torres encouraged anyone who suspects elder abuse or neglect to report it immediately.
Death of Elderly Michigan Woman
Earlier this month, a woman in Flint, Michigan died of suspected elder abuse. According to Genesee County Sheriff Chriss Swanson, the woman was neglected for months. When she was found by law enforcement, she had a number of fractures and weighed just 62 pounds.
Elder Justice Sweep
In March, the U.S. Attorney General announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud in the history of the department. More than 400 defendants were charged in over $1 billion in losses involving fraud schemes affecting seniors. In one case, a collection scam called up elderly victims requesting payment of outstanding debt. The suspects then sent a counterfeit check to the victim for deposit and requested the victim wire funds to an overseas account.
Financial exploitation is only one form of elder abuse. However, financial exploitation can be difficult to detect for concerned family members. An elderly parent or relative may end up paying out tens of thousands of dollars before friends or family find out about the fraud. Many seniors are too ashamed to talk about the exploitation after learning that they were the victim of fraud.
Scammers of the elderly may be taking advantage of the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic. There are some scammers who may contact seniors to send money, gift card payments, or provide credit card information based on a number of false claims, including:
- Offering fake vaccines, cures, filters, or testing
- Fraudulent coronavirus-related charities soliciting money
- Needing money to help a grandchild or other relative to get out of legal trouble or get out of a foreign country
- Threaten to suspend Social Security benefits
If you have an elderly family member, it is important to discuss these and other common scams so they do not fall victim to financial exploitation.
Abuse at the Hands of Family Members
Almost two-thirds of elder abusers are family members. It may be hard to come to terms with this fact but is important to err on the side of caution. The perpetrators are often adult children or spouses who are typically male. In some cases, the abusers have problems with substance abuse, mental or physical health problems, have a history of police trouble, and may be unemployed or having financial problems.
Legal Help After Elder Abuse
Your elderly loved ones who are suffering abuse need an advocate to fight for them and make sure they get the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering. If you suspect an elderly parent or family member may be suffering abuse in Philadelphia, please contact the team at Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.
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