According to the Los Angeles Times (11/26/13), the alleged perpetrator was a former insurance agent, who forged his aunt’s signature to withdraw money from her $100,000 life insurance policy sold to her in 2005. In all, more than $110,000 was taken from the insurance policy, without the aunt’s knowledge.
A 2011 report issued by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, in collaboration with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech, suggests that elder financial abuse is on the rise. The report, titled “Elder Financial Abuse: Crimes of Occasion, Desperation, and Predation Against America’s Elders,” found that across the US, victims of elder financial abuse lost an estimated $2.9 billion, up from $2.6 billion in 2008.
The report, which examined scholarly and professional literature combined with news-feed articles to determine the extent of financial elder abuse, found that reported fraud perpetrated by strangers made up 51 percent of news-feed stories, with stories about financial elder abuse perpetrated by family, friends and neighbors at 34 percent. Stories about exploitation in the business sector made up 12 percent of news-feed stories.
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The report found that women were almost two times more likely than men to be victims of financial elder abuse, with most victims between the ages of 80 and 89. More than half of the perpetrators were male. The authors noted three different types of elder financial abuse crimes: crimes of occasion, in which the abuse occurs because the victim is in the way of the predator’s goals; crimes of desperation, in which family members are desperate for money and take it from their elderly relatives; or crimes of predation, which occur when trust is built between the perpetrator and the abused, so that trust can be used to financially exploit the senior.
According to the report, elder financial abuse is the “Crime of the 21st Century.”