Targeting senior citizens: Tackling elder fraud

Published: Jan. 4, 2017 at 6:02 PM EST
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By: Erin Lisch

January 4, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Scams are everywhere and the biggest targets of these crimes? The elderly.

Being scammed can be painful, but seeing it happen to a loved one can be even worse.

This heartbreak happened to Kim Dixon’s family.

"My father-in-law was a victim of a massive scam by a woman," said Dixon.

Dixon says her father-in-law was taken advantage of after his wife's passing, when he was befriended by a woman online.

Dixon said, "She finally got him to marry her and 28 days later, he passed away of a heart attack and she wasn't even there."

This is just one of many cases, with seniors losing $36.48 billion to elder financial abuse per year, according to a report by True Link Research.

A recent study by the FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice reported on the issue of elder fraud and how to combat it.

Dean of the college, Thomas Blomberg, said, "'They didn't feel that the criminal justice system could do anything to help them."

The study shows more seniors do not report being scammed because of embarrassment and the hassle.

FSU doctoral student Julie Brancale said, "We're all at risk, and particularly as we age, we're at a greater risk."

Tips for combating elder fraud include:

  • Keeping in touch with elderly loved ones.
  • Holding seminars on potential scams at retirement homes.
  • Avoiding detailed obituaries, as a surviving spouse may be viewed as an easy target.
  • "We need laws, we need services, we need to protect our elderly," said Dean Blomberg.

    "These people get up every minute of every day and think, what can I take from you today and how can I get it," said Dixon.

    An entire family can suffer the pain of scams against the elderly, but with proper surveillance, these situations can be avoided.

    The FSU/True Link Research report looked at an array of issues such as embezzlement, investment fraud, home repair fraud, internet scams and telemarketing scams. To see all of the findings, click