Log In

Reset Password

Financial crime evident in rising elder abuse

First Prev 1 2 3 Next Last
Elder abuse is becoming more apparent, but how much involves financial impropriety appears to be unclear (Photograph supplied)

Financial institutions and an advocacy group have reported worrying elder abuse and rising attempts to financially victimise senior citizens.

Last year, the charity Age Concern, referred more than 50 cases to the authorities, due to concerns about elder abuse, a figure higher than in previous years.

Executive director Mercedes Pringle, speaking shortly after Saturday’s Elder Abuse Awareness Day, said that “a pretty good chunk” involved potential financial crime.

She said Age Concern regularly fields calls from seniors and caregivers on the topic, but cannot investigate themselves, instead referring callers to the police or agencies such as Government’s Ageing and Disability Services.

Advocacy for seniors: Age Concern executive director Mercedes Pringle (Photograph supplied)
What is elder financial abuse?

Financial abuse of seniors can include pressuring elders to give or lend money, or give access to financial information.

It can also involve trying to trick an older person into signing something like a will or contract.

Sometimes the abuser will take and use the senior citizen’s credit card, without their permission.

The organisation is concerned about the lack of actionable statistics on the prevalence of elder financial abuse.

Geoff Scott, head of the Bermuda Bankers Association, said banks see signs of attempted financial crimes against older people, including cases involving family members.

“I can tell you, elder abuse is a problem,” he said. “I think anything more than zero cases is bad enough. We do not need to know the exact number.”

Ms Pringle was particularly concerned about the misuse of power of attorney – legal control usually given to a caregiver when someone is deemed unfit or unable to make their own decisions.

“The power of attorney is something that a lot of people need to learn how to use respectfully,” Ms Pringle said. “Some families get into sticky situations with it.”

The charity hears about all types of financial abuse involving senior citizens.

“We get calls and e-mails from seniors about suspicious e-mails,” Ms Pringle said. “There are sometimes problems with family members suspected of stealing money. Sometimes it is about the transference of money using iTunes gift cards.”

Scammers like the cards because they are untraceable. Victims of this type of financial fraud, are rarely able to recover their money.

Age Concern recently held a workshop with the Bermuda Police Service to educate its members about financial abuse and fraud.

“There had been a lot of questions about it,” Ms Pringle said.

You can say no: Geoff Scott, the chief executive of the Bermuda Bankers Association (File photograph)

Mr Scott said World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was an opportunity to remind people about the importance of recognising the signs of financial abuse and ways to prevent it.

A statement from the BBA stated: “Older adults are often the target of financial abuse, but anyone can fall victim to it.

“Financial abuse is unethical, and in many cases it is also illegal. It’s important to be aware that financial abuse can come from unexpected sources.”

Older people unable to bank in person, were advised to do financial transactions themselves, if possible, by telephone, online or mobile banking.

Senior citizens should also carefully choose those who help them with their banking and financial decisions.

The statement said: “You can say ‘no’ when someone pressures you for money or to buy something – even family members.”

The BBA will be posting more information about preventing financial abuse of seniors on their Twitter page later this month.

To report or discuss elder abuse, contact Government’s Ageing and Disability Services or the Ministry of Youth, Social Development and Seniors, at 292-7802 or 278-4900 or e-mail ads@gov.bm

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published June 19, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 20, 2024 at 8:26 am)

Financial crime evident in rising elder abuse

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon