Financial crimes against the elderly are divided into stranger fraud and financial exploitation by relatives and caretakers. In terms of target selection and method of committing the crime, these categories might sometimes overlap. The disparities in offender-victim interactions, on the other hand, suggest that alternative approaches to understanding and responding to the problem are needed. Whether you are a victim or falsely accused, you should consult a Criminal Law Attorney to help you with the case.

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Find A Criminal Law Attorney for California Elderly Fraud Claims

Understanding the elements that contribute to your problem will help you create your own local analysis questions, identify appropriate remedies, and determine excellent efficacy measurements.

Estimates of National Prevalence

As previously stated, there are numerous sorts of financial exploitation and fraud. Furthermore, the age at which one is regarded as "elderly" varies by state. Because of these considerations, estimating nationwide prevalence is extremely challenging. Official statistics sources, such as the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports and the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey, usually provide crime rates. However, neither of these publications mentions fraud as a source of victimization. Furthermore, studies that rely on victimization reports are severely constrained, given the universal consensus that fraud is vastly underreported.

Several national organizations, on the other hand, have performed research that provides a variety of methods for quantifying the rate of financial crimes against the elderly. Some of these are focused on consumer fraud, with estimates ranging from 20 to 60 percent of adult Americans who have been victims or nearly victims. The prevalence figures in these studies are not broken down by age.

Estimates of losses due to telemarketing fraud are included in the overall category of consumer fraud. In 2000, the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging estimated that telemarketing fraud costs consumers $40 billion per year and that around 10% of the country's 14,000 telemarketing firms were fraudulent. According to certain studies, only one out of every 10,000 fraud victims reports the crime to the police.

Other research focuses on the extent to which family or carers are financially exploited. The National Center on Senior Abuse reported an estimated 21,427 occurrences of financial or material exploitation of an elder in 1998, accounting for roughly one-third of all confirmed elder abuse cases, including physical and sexual abuse and neglect. The National Aging Resource Center on Elder Abuse reported that 20 percent of elder abuse victims were victims of financial exploitation in 1998, based on data from 24 states. Financial exploitation is found in larger proportions in reported elder abuse cases, according to state-level surveys, with over 40% of elder abuse cases in California and North Carolina involving financial exploitation.

These studies are only marginally beneficial in establishing the scope of your local problem. They do, however, reveal that the problem affects a huge percentage of the population, regardless of age, and that it is likely underreported by victims and underrepresented in official statistics.

While elder fraud is very common, you can also be falsely accused of the said crime. Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney to help clear your name.


Elder fraud is significantly underreported, according to researchers, which is worrisome for various reasons. First, failing to disclose abuse means that police, adult protective services, family members, and others are not called in to help stop the abuse. Second, even if intervention is not required, the underreporting of these crimes makes problem-solving efforts extremely difficult due to a lack of information on the targets, techniques, and perpetrators. Finally, failure to report the crimes may encourage the perpetrators to victimize others. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your Cal Bar Attorney Search.

Many elderly victims do not disclose fraud because they are embarrassed or fear that people will believe they are incapable of caring for themselves, leading to placement in a nursing home or long-term care facility. Many victims are either unaware of or unsure how to obtain assistance services. Many victims of financial exploitation have close links to the perpetrator and may feel protective. They may wish to put an end to the exploitation and reclaim their property, but they do not want the perpetrator punished. Furthermore, many victims believe they share some of the blame.

Professionals (bankers, attorneys, accountants, and doctors, for example) are also notorious for being sluggish to report suspected abuse. Their infrequent, episodic contact with the elderly, as well as their lack of knowledge of undue influence and unlawful behavior, function as deterrents to reporting. Even if they suspect abuse, there is frequently no standard procedure for reporting it.

When senior victims do disclose fraud or financial exploitation losses, the quality of the report typically makes inquiry difficult. If the victim is cognitively handicapped, he or she may forget critical details or be unable to recall the order of events. Victim interviewers must put victims at ease and provide ample time and signals for accurate recollection; otherwise, the reports will be lacking in critical information.

Finally, seniors who are intellectually or physically handicapped may be intimidated by the thought of visiting the police station, district attorney's office, or court. Given the length of time it takes to bring a sophisticated case of fraud or financial exploitation to trial, and it's possible that a particularly weak victim's cognitive or physical condition will deteriorate to the point where he or she will be unable to testify.

Not only do these barriers to intervention highlight the importance of developing investigative techniques that account for both the complexity of the crimes and the victims' unique personal challenges, but they also highlight the importance of developing investigative techniques that account for both the complexity of the crimes and the unique personal challenges of the victims.

Whether you are a victim or falsely accused of elderly fraud, contact a Criminal Law Attorney to file or defend against these claims.

Vulnerabilities of Victims

The common perception of elderly fraud victims is that they are uneducated, socially isolated individuals—possibly suffering from mental illness—who adhere to outdated concepts of civility and manners that obstruct their ability to identify fraud. Dementia and other cognitive impairments do play a part in elder fraud and financial abuse on occasion. Responses that require participation from seniors with advanced impairments may be ineffective. Recent research, on the other hand, has debunked stereotypes, revealing that the vast majority of potential victims are more educated, knowledgeable, and socially involved than previously assumed. Fraud victims were found to be highly affluent and well-educated, with large networks of family and friends, according to a recent AARP (previously known as the American Association of Retired Persons) survey.

Several major points were discovered as a result of the survey:

Victims were more inclined to believe deceptive sales pitches because they believed they had a strong chance of winning and that the prizes offered for a price were a good deal.

Despite the fact that 90% of respondents had heard of telemarketing fraud, more than two-thirds of those polled said they had trouble distinguishing between fraudulent and legitimate solicitations. Even when they suspected the offer was fake, many victims reported difficulties concluding a conversation with a telemarketer.

The extent to which age influences the likelihood of being a victim of consumer fraud has been a source of heated discussion. This discussion is outside the scope of this guide. It's crucial to remember, however, that age isn't a good predictor of fraud victimization. Understanding the impact of various risk variables can aid in the analysis of your local situation and the development of appropriately focused solutions. According to a number of researchers, the following personal factors influence the likelihood of being victimized:

  • Homeownership is a dream for many people.
  • Possibility of getting guidance before making a purchase
  • Consumer rights and knowledge of consumer information sources
  • The practice of taking financial risks
  • Acceptance of marketing appeals
  • Awareness of the existence of frauds, swindles, and deceptive practices
  • The ability to put a stop to telemarketers.
  • According to the findings, a lack of information and key consumer skills makes people vulnerable to fraud.

According to victimization research, seniors with active social lives and exposure to a wide range of consumer settings may be more prone to fraud simply due to their increased exposure. Those who are socially isolated, on the other hand, may be more vulnerable because they are less likely to seek advice before making a purchase and because the sales pitch itself satisfies an unfulfilled need for social interaction, making them feel forced to be pleasant or obedient in return.

In many ways, seniors exploited by relatives and carers are similar to elderly scam victims, but there are some key differences. There is no desire for financial gain. They may be afraid of the repercussions if they do not comply with the offender's requests. They may also have long-term emotional links to the abuser, which may cause them to feel conflicted about reporting abuse and protective of the offender after it is uncovered. If you or a loved one is a victim of elder fraud, make sure to contact a Criminal Law Attorney to help you file a claim.

Despite the lack of actual research, there are numerous references in the literature to certain older lifestyle factors that are thought to be connected to fraud victimization. Despite the fact that many seniors are poor, they are likely to own a home and have savings, pensions, and social security income.

Furthermore, seniors are more likely than other demographic groups to stay at home during the day, making them available for phone and in-person marketing campaigns. These variables, when joined with a variety of fears unique to the elderly—fear of outliving one's assets, losing financial independence, and declining health—create fertile ground for all forms of financial fraud and abuse.

Facilitation of Victims

In contrast to victims of most other types of crime, victims of consumer fraud play an important role in the transaction's success. Victim compliance can be measured on a scale. 17 At one end of the spectrum is the victim who is entirely unconcerned, such as in the instance of identity theft or credit card fraud. The victim in the middle is the one who makes an uninformed or unresearched transaction or financial arrangement. The repeat offender is at the far end. Many people continue to engage in high-risk behaviors even after being victimized.

The following are important moments in a typical fraud transaction that put the victim at risk. They are clearly relevant to intervention points:

  • The victim makes the first contact or takes moves that lead to the first contact, suggesting that he or she is open to the pitch.
  • The victim divulges personal information that aids the perpetrator in committing the scam.
  • The victim consents to the transformation of a commercial relationship into a trust relationship and waives standard precautions.
  • The victim buys into the perpetrator's story or pitch.
  • The victim writes a check, gives a credit card number, or allows access to funds in some other way.

Furthermore, certain characteristics may predispose people to financial exploitation or fraud. Good citizenship, compassion, charity, respect for authority, and a trusting attitude are all regarded as favorable traits. Others, such as being thoughtless, prone to flattery, or easily frightened, are less acceptable. Some seemingly insignificant circumstances, such as being on "junk mail" lists, belonging to groups, making transactions over the phone or the Internet, moving, buying a house, car, or appliance, investing, and donating to charity, may all contribute to the likelihood of fraud victimization.

You should be aware of the different ways in which victims of fraud and financial exploitation may unknowingly assist offenders and, if possible, assign them an active role in resolving the issue.


It is well documented that fraudulent enterprises construct "mooch" or "sucker" lists of fraud victims and sell them to one another. These lists are a better alternative to "cold calling" or random-number dialing because the persons on them have been proven to be vulnerable to fraud.

Past victimization has been determined to be the best predictor of future victimization by researchers. Past victims are not only retargeted, as detailed above, but they might also fall prey to scammers claiming to be able to help them recuperate their losses from prior frauds. Fraudulent "recovery rooms" seek previous victims and claim to investigate the original fraud and refund the funds—for a charge. Naturally, victims never hear from the secondary scammer after paying the recovery money.

Financial exploitation by relatives and carers suggests a pattern of revictimization by its very nature. A single bank withdrawal or counterfeit check is rarely enough for the offenders. Instead, the pattern is more likely to start with low-value transactions, escalate over time, and, if unabated, culminating in the transfer or dissipation of all the elder's assets, leaving the victim without financial assistance. Revictimization can cause major financial losses and phycological injury, a California Criminal Law Attorney might be able to help ease the difficulties by helping you get the damages you are due.

Different Types of Influence

To persuade victims to consent to a transaction, consumer fraud focuses on manipulating their emotions. Making the customer feel like he or she is part of a select group receiving VIP treatment and instilling a sense of urgency that hinders further investigation into the transaction are examples of emotional ploys.

Furthermore, offenders may refuse to take "no" for a response, have an unending supply of rebuttals for any justification offered by the victim, and have an aggressive attitude that intimidates the victim into compliance. These techniques are crucial components of fraud, and they work because they appeal to inherent human wants to feel special, find a good deal, and please others.

When it comes to financial exploitation, one of the most difficult questions to answer is whether the victim understood the transaction, assessed the worth of what he or she gave away or signed over, and recognized the consequences of the transaction. When looking at a variety of frauds and related crimes, three concepts are particularly important:

Mental capacity.

While it's typical to see a progressive loss in functional skills like memory, math, and information processing as you get older, more apparent decreases can be caused by illnesses, dietary deficiencies, melancholy, and some drugs. Given the complexity of many financial transactions, mental capability clearly plays a vital part in making wise financial decisions and managing finances.


To accept or agree to another's proposition is the definition of the term. To be legally binding, the individual granting consent must be aware of the transaction's implications.

Undue influence.

To acquire control over the victim's decision-making and secure obedience, perpetrators may employ a variety of tactics. Isolating the victim, encouraging dependency, and instilling dread and distrust in others are all examples. Offenders employ undue influence to undermine the voluntary agreement by threatening the victim, applying pressure to act fast, or discouraging the victim from obtaining counsel from others.

Experts in this field point out that susceptibility to improper influence has nothing to do with IQ. If an older is cognitively impaired, has sensory deficiencies (such as eyesight or hearing loss), or is malnourished, he or she may be more easily influenced due to a lack of trust in his or her own memories and perceptions.

The level of influence used to commit financial crimes is on a scale. On the one hand, the influence is benign because the victim is neither duped nor coerced to do something against his or her choice. On the other hand, there is the fairly straightforward scenario of theft, in which the criminal takes something without the victim's permission. Coercion is a step beyond benign, involving undue influence through dominance, intimidation, and threats. Fraud also includes swindling by deception, trickery, or misrepresentation.

Understanding the victim's mental state and the sorts of influence utilized is critical to developing effective solutions. Do note, that if you were false accused of elder fraud, you would also want to benefit from the help of a California Criminal Defense Attorney to exonerate you.

Characteristics of the Offender

The fundamental criterion used to separate the primary forms of financial crime in this guide is the offender-victim relationship.


Consumer fraud perpetrators are usually strangers to their victims, though they may monitor patterns (e.g., times in and out of the house, spending habits, etc.) in order to identify them as a prospective "mark." Telemarketers may call from thousands of miles away and have no face-to-face interaction with their victims. Given the recent focus given to elder fraud, there are surprisingly few empirical investigations of perpetrators, especially given the vast literature on victim characteristics.

Offenders range in age, race, social status, and educational attainment. Males make up the majority of elderly fraud perpetrators. Profit or a need to feel powerful and important may drive them. The challenge of the deception may create a "high," especially if it is perpetrated against wealthy or intelligent victims. Offenders are generally unconstrained by social norms or business ethics, and they rationalize their actions. Criminologists have discovered that criminals have a wide range of psychological problems, as evidenced by their skewed thought processes and lack of care for others, in clinical research.

Those who commit fraud against the elderly generally show themselves as confident, polite, and sophisticated in their demeanor. They are relentless but also managing to avoid arousing suspicion. Fraudulent telemarketers usually operate out of movable, disassembled operations that may be rapidly rebuilt. There are usually six stages to a boiler-room operation:

  • Solicitation.

    • Telemarketers find fresh leads through incoming mail (postcards or certificates returned by people who receive bulk mail) or unsolicited outgoing calls. At this point, "mooch" or "sucker" lists are essential for efficiency since the majority of calls are from out of state.

  • Profits.

    • The pitch is normally written down, but most callers are given a lot of leeway in terms of what they may promise and how much they can negotiate. In the "front room," inexperienced callers make the initial contact. Consumers who refuse the offer are sent to a "no-sale room," where more experienced callers pressurize them and rationalize their fears. Former victims are targeted by callers in a "reload room," who use a variety of fraudulent promises to persuade them to buy again. The "reload room" callers, in particular, frequently solicit the majority of the company's illegal revenue.

  • Verification.

    • A caller contacts the consumer shortly after the sale is completed, verifies the terms of the sale, and arranges for payment. At this point, the caller tries to hide any deception made earlier in the conversation.

  • Collection.

    • Scammers must acquire cash promptly to avoid buyer's remorse. They do it by requiring overnight check mailing, bank draft permission, or electronic funds transfer as payment methods. Most boiler rooms are unable to get bank merchant accounts for credit card sales due to their instability and unlawful business tactics.

  • Shipping.

    • While it may appear that the promised goods are never delivered, successful boiler rooms have discovered that consistent shipping reduces customer complaints, which reduces the likelihood of law enforcement action. Most boiler rooms operate on a "10 to 1" basis, providing a prize equal to about one-tenth of the money paid.

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Customer service and intimidation

It's critical to be available to clients at all times in order to solve difficulties. Scammers may ridicule or berate complainants or employ delaying tactics and hollow promises to discourage victims into abandoning their recovery efforts. In most cases, these organizations will only issue refunds if they are threatened with legal action.

Family members and caretakers

Financial exploitation of the elderly is supported by the nature of their interactions with them. The victim may be unaware of or deny the abuse because they have built a deep bond with the offender. Furthermore, if the offender is removed, the victim may be afraid of being alone or being placed in a care facility. These aspects are critical to comprehend while dealing with the victim's emotional impact.

According to a national poll, offenders are substantially younger than their victims, with 40% being under the age of 40 and another 40% being between the ages of 41 and 59. Nearly 60% of the participants are men, and nearly 60% are family members.

Other relatives include adult children, grandkids, and other relatives

While an older may assume that a relative is helping him or her financially, the relative could be withdrawing cash from joint bank accounts for personal use, using the elder's credit card to make illicit purchases, or embezzling money by refinancing the elder's property; This is the most common type of perpetrator, and unfortunately, the abuse is generally undetected until the elder's assets have been drained.

  • Caregivers who are professionals.

    • Seniors who require assistance to live independently benefit greatly from the services of home health aides. They may, however, take advantage of an elder's confidence by intercepting and activating unsolicited credit cards in the senior's name, stealing jewelry, cash, or other assets, forging or altering checks for their own use, or duping the senior into transferring titles and deeds to the caretaker.

  • Others in a position of trust, such as close friends.

    • Neighbors, handymen, bank tellers, real estate agents, and investment advisors are all examples of this group. In general, such perpetrators may advocate self-serving investments and expenditures, steal money or property, or arrange for alterations to wills, trusts, or mortgage financing to benefit themselves.

The investigation of potential abuse situations is complicated by issues of permission or voluntary gift-giving. Gift-giving customs differ per family, as do cultural expectations for aged care; as a result, it's critical to consider each issue in its proper context. Furthermore, any business relationship an elder may have should be examined in terms of the nature of the arrangement.

There are two fundamental sorts of offenders, regardless of their classification. The first category includes persons who have low self-esteem and are abusing substances, are anxious, or are burdened by their caretaker responsibilities. They don't go out looking for victims; instead, they wait for opportunities to present themselves. The second group consists of people who go for vulnerable elders in order to gain authority and control over their possessions.

If you happen to be accused or falsely accused of elderly fraud, clearing your name is the best way to go. Consult a California Criminal Defense Lawyer to help you in this endeavor.

Indicators and Warning Signs

Consumer fraud and financial exploitation of the elderly include a number of warning signals and indicators, according to crime prevention initiatives. The symptoms and indicators are presented individually since the ways of committing the two sorts of crimes are distinct.

Consumer fraud warning indicators

  • Unsolicited correspondence declaring the recipient a "guaranteed winner."
  • Unusual quantity of shipments, including low-cost costume jewelry, plastic cameras, watches, and other accessories.
  • Subscriptions to magazines in excess of what is required.
  • Unsolicited phone calls from operators offering "great possibilities" to win prizes or make investments.
  • When money should support these necessities, it is difficult to fund basic expenses such as food, utilities, and so on.
  • At the bank, the senior is accompanied by a stranger who encourages him to make a substantial withdrawal.
  • Checks and withdrawals made on behalf of persons, marketing companies, or other enterprises, as well as transactions that the elder is unable to explain.

Financial abuse indicators.

  • A new acquaintance exhibits an interest in money, promises to look after the elder, or ingratiates himself with him.
  • A relative or caregiver is too concerned with the elder's financial concerns and has no obvious sources of support.
  • A relative or caregiver is concerned about the cost of caring for the elderly person or is hesitant to pay for necessary medical treatment.
  • The bills for utilities and other expenses are not being paid.
  • The elder's placement, care, and goods are out of proportion to his or her wealth.
  • When friends or family phone or visit, a relative or caretaker isolates the old, makes excuses, and does not give the older messages.
  • A relative or caretaker makes implausible financial justifications, and the elder is either unaware of or unable to explain the arrangements.
  • The elder does not have access to his or her checking account or credit card statements, which are sent to a relative or caregiver.
  • The elder is escorted to the bank by a relative or caretaker who refuses to allow the older to speak for himself or herself, and/or the elder appears scared or terrified of the person accompanying him or her.
  • The elder is concerned or perplexed about "money that has gone missing."
  • On the senior's checks, there are dubious signatures or the older signs checks, and another party fills in the payee and amount areas.
  • An unusual quantity of financial activity occurs, especially shortly after joint accounts are established, or someone new begins to assist with the elder's finances.
  • A will, power of attorney, or other legal instrument is drafted, but the elder is unaware of the consequences.

These red flags and indicators have been included in a number of educational initiatives aimed at family members, banks, attorneys, and other concerned parties. This is covered in the section on "Responses" of this handbook.

Legal Documents Aren't Being Overseen

Given that legal agreements like trusts, joint bank accounts, and powers of attorney provide a third party such significant decision-making power, it's odd that their preparation and implementation aren't more strictly monitored. Few states need powers of attorney to be registered, and even fewer require a lawyer's involvement in the document's writing. Witnesses are not required to prove the elder's signature is voluntary.

While notaries are required in most jurisdictions, they are not trained to judge mental competence and hence cannot safeguard an elderly person from abuse. Even fully capable seniors are unable to monitor transactions performed on their accounts since no record of continuous use is supplied to them. Finally, only a few states have explicit procedures for removing the power of attorney authority, allowing the offender to continue misusing the power even after intervention.

Involved Laws and Agencies

Every state has passed legislation prohibiting specific types of fraud and, in many cases, increasing the penalties for fraud against the elderly. General consumer protection laws, telemarketing laws, and other rules controlling theft, embezzlement, and fraud, among other things, protect older consumers. However, because each state writes its own laws, substantial disparities make a summary of national elder financial abuse legislation unfeasible.

These distinctions not only make it difficult to summarize the various legislative methods, but they also make it difficult to investigate and punish fraud perpetrators who may have defrauded people in multiple jurisdictions, each with its own set of statutory requirements.

Furthermore, fraud and financial abuse charges are handled by a number of different agencies. Large-scale consumer fraud operations may be investigated by federal agencies such as the FBI, Postal Inspection Service, Secret Service, and state and municipal police. A significant impediment to effective intervention has been found as a lack of information exchange among various entities.

When a financial crime involves the misappropriation or abuse of legal papers, the case may be categorized as a civil matter, necessitating extra collaboration with the prosecutor and the court of jurisdiction. Banks and phone providers are also important collaborators in fraud and financial exploitation investigations. Finally, because the senior's safety is so essential, social service organizations such as adult protective services and medical and mental health services must be included in a coordinated effort to keep the senior safe.

Financial exploitation and fraud cases involve a complex web of action, intent, and consequences. The breadth of jurisdiction and many areas of expertise necessary are unlikely to be found in a single agency, necessitating collaboration across traditional domains and professional boundaries.

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