Financial Crimes Against Senior Citizens

Frauds committed by strangers!

During the past three decades, financial crimes have become a cause of increasing concern because of their repercussions to businesses, banks, clients, investors and stake holders. Financial crimes are politically or economically-motivated and can downgrade economic stability. One type of financial crime is when the perpetrator manipulates inside information or coerces the victim for vested self-interests or financial gain.

For instance, the perpetrator may engage in deceit against the concerned party for material incentive. The second type is when the perpetrators aim to maintain the material benefit that has already been acquired.

Financial crimes could be facilitated by business leaders, organized groups, employees and third parties. The main types of financial crimes include: embezzlement, black market transactions, financing terrorism, bribery, coercion, corruption, electronic crimes, counterfeiting and money-laundering. Financial services are susceptible to fraudulent activities because of their complex nature. It is a difficult task to identify and counter the fraud.  Fraudulent activities may be committed against local or international businesses.

Financial crimes are also committed against senior citizens. The crimes against elderly can be classified into: frauds committed by strangers and exploitation by family members. For the former case, the victim is deceived with the promise of benefits that are unintended, distorted or non-existent. The types of crimes committed are categorized into: internet fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud, negligence and physical or emotional abuse.

The types of financial crimes

This could be done by firstly, promising prizes to the elderly. The offender may inform the victim about winning a huge sum of money, for which the victim would be required to send cash or shipment and processing costs. In this case, either the benefit is never delivered or the offender sends a cheap item that is worth less than the amount of money.

Secondly, the perpetrator could solicit charity from the elderly to shadowy or non-existent organizations. Third, there could be investment scams to deceive the elderly since they live on fixed incomes and would want to maximize the value of their property for security.

Perpetrators convince victims to invest in real estate, stocks, bonds or precious stones with promise of high returns. Fourth, fraudsters may recommend repair and renovation that require advance deposit. The offenders do not fulfill the conditions by not showing up, not completing the work or doing substandard work.

Fifth, lender may provide loans with high interest rates, hidden costs or repayment schedules, at the expense of the senior citizen’s income. Sixth, predatory sales people may provide insurance policies that are a sham or do not provide the promised benefits.

The mediums employed

Predators may deceive elderly citizens via email, one-on-one interactions and telemarketing. They are successful when they manage to gain trust of victim; they associate themselves with a reputed organization or by persuading the senior citizen to accept an offer for the sake of well-being.  They persuade the elderly person by using tactics to make them feel important or being especially selected for the offer and that these offers are limited.

The victims are persuaded into accepting the offer immediately or else it would expire, leaving them with no time to consult others. The predators ask the victims to not disclose the details of so-called special offers to others to prevent exposure.

Caregivers may exploit senior citizens for financial gain through various means. The elderly are vulnerable because relatives have their trust and confidence. The perpetrator squanders, steals or withholds the victim’s estate, valuables or cash for material gain. The offender may borrow the elder’s money without paying it back; deny services to conserve cash; sell possessions without the elder’s consent, abuse cards without consent and force the elder to give up resources thorough coercion, emotional abuse, fake promises, deceit or intimidation.

They may withdraw the victim from family, friends or outside world so that the elder may not consult others for advice or help. The perpetrator may convince the elder that no one cares about him.

Moreover, family members may exploit financial or legal arrangements. The offender may convince the elder for a joint account and misuse or withdraw their funds by coercing them to consent. The offender may force the elder to transfer ownership of property or an automobile by coercion or intimidation. Attorneys have power to take decisions on the elder’s behalf.

An honest attorney takes decisions that are in the elder’s best interests. A dishonest attorney would manipulate the elder to sign documents or make transactions that they may not fully comprehend and that benefit the predatory agent. Lastly, the elder may transfer funds into a trust. How the money is conserved depends on who is entrusted with the money. The offender may force the elderly to make the offender the beneficiary after the elder’s death.

The aspects that contribute to these crimes

There are several factors that contribute to crimes against the elderly. Firstly, frauds against elders are underreported. Senior citizens may seek help from family members, police or protective services. There is dearth of information on tactics, targets and offenders. Furthermore, lack of reporting encourages predators to take further advantage of seniors. Elders may not report crimes due to shame of not being able to take care of themselves. They may be unaware of the resources available to them.

Secondly, senior citizens are vulnerable to frauds because they are socially-withdrawn, ill-informed and suffering from neurological degeneration. They may not be able to identify fraud because of their kind natures.

Thirdly, the victim may have a participatory role to facilitate the transaction.  The victim may lack information about the details and be induced into signing documents that he does not fully comprehend.

Senior citizens may be influenced into accepting fraudulent offers through different means. Their emotions may be played with to induce them to agree to the terms of a transaction. Offenders may intimidate the victim and not take ‘no’ for an answer.

Three actors play an important role in crimes against elderly: firstly, the victim’s consent – for which the victim must fully comprehend the terms of the agreement before signing; secondly, the victim’s mental capacity, which may decline due to neurological degeneration or age-related cognitive decline in brain functioning; thirdly, undue influence happens when the perpetrators uses tactics to gain power over the victim’s decision-making.

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