“[The perpetrators] poke and prod elderly homeowners into doing home repairs [seniors] don’t need at hyper-inflated costs,” says Niven, in comments made to LawyersandSettlements.com’s Brenda Craig. The scammers “fiddle with loan documents, falsify the seniors’ income or deceive seniors about the monthly repayment costs. Then suddenly the senior is stuck with a mortgage they can’t afford and a monthly payment that might be equal to their entire income.
“I would say those are the most horrible cases,” Niven continues. “It becomes a toxic situation and they can actually lose their home.”
According to the US Census Bureau, the growth of the most elderly segment of the population has remained significant since 1900.** From 1900 through 1960, the elderly increased tenfold while populations under 65 grew at a much slower place, at 2.2 times larger. From 1960 ??" three years after the baby boom peaked ??" through 1990, the elderly grew by 88 percent, compared against a growth rate of 34 percent for persons under age 65.**
CNN reports that as of July, 2011 boomers represented 25 percent of the US population. As boomers continue to age, it represents a significant concern for elderly Americans who might suffer from increasing forgetfulness, and who may be more apt to live alone following the death of a spouse, and overall can be very trusting.
“Sometimes it’s the neighbor or relative that comes in and befriends the senior and gets control of the assets,” says Niven. “Unfortunately, assets are often squandered before you can recover, but sometimes not. Sometimes it’s a rising market and the assets have been leveraged, so you still might be in a good position. You have to triage the situation and see how to unwind some kind of horrible transaction.”
There are several strategies that Niven has used to recover assets for a senior who has been the victim of elder fraud--sometimes as the result of scam artists; sometimes, the victim’s family is part of the problem.
“We had a case recently where we didn’t just sue the defendant but we sued the relatives because we knew the scammer kept the property in the relatives’ names. We knew eventually that’s where we would have to go to recover.”
To that end, an elder fraud lawsuit is often used to recover assets lost through fraudulent means ??" either to a con artist, or a member of the victim’s own family. Relatives can be just as greedy when it comes to helping themselves to an elderly father or mother’s assets, or talking an easily confused senior into divesting themselves of money or assets when it is not in their best interest to do so. “Every case is different,” Niven says.
For more financial elder fraud legal information, read more at LawyersandSettlements.com.
“Baby Boomer Generation Fast Facts”, CNN Library/CNN.com, November 6, 2013 http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/us/baby-boomer-generation-fast-facts/
** “Aging in the United States ??" Past, Present, and Future”, US department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census: with information from the Office of the Demography of Aging, US National Institute on Aging, June 27, 2011, http://www.census.gov/population/international/files/97agewc.pdf
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