Tennessee Sees Increase Of Elder Financial Abuse

Image Credit: Cade Martin, Dawn Arlotta, USCDCP / CC

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Wire fraud and other forms of elder financial abuse continue to impact large numbers of seniors across Tennessee.

According to the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, in 2021 alone, more than $32.5 million were scammed from seniors in financial scams.

A recent case in Brentwood was perpetrated by a slick character masquerading as a financial manager with insider knowledge about the AARP.

One of the victims of the man was an elderly woman who gave the man $230,000 over a course of ten years in turn for promised investments and high returns.

The man also convinced the elderly lady to take out a reverse mortgage, even though her home was paid off, and pocketed the money. He also cashed in her life insurance policy and collected the annual benefits. 

The scam came to light in August 2015 when two FBI agents arrived on the elderly lady’s doorstep. The FBI agents then explained that she was being scammed and was in danger of losing her house. 

This lady was one of 17 known victims of the man, who was the owner of now disbanded insurance agency in Brentwood.

It is all a part of the increasing rates of elder abuse, which also encompasses physical abuse and neglect. 

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s data showed that wire fraud involving victims over the age of 65 rose 35% last year, and fraud by computer hacking rose by 92%. Fraud by false pretenses against seniors is up 19% since 2017. 

The most recent scams targeting seniors have been romance and gift card scams.  Scammers will request payment through gift cards rather than other payment methods because they have fewer protections for buyers. 

Many of the financial crimes stem from foreign countries, making them difficult to prosecute, there are still a number of scams that take place within the victim’s own home. Family members sometimes try to exploit seniors who can no longer handle their own finances. 

Experts state that the number of cases may be lower than what is reported.  According to the National Council on Aging, some studies show that only one in 24 cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities. 

Major signs of financial abuse often include the sudden inability to pay rent or mortgage, or for other basic needs, experts say.

Some signs of neglect include physical and/or cognitive decline and limitations, lack of hygiene and poor living conditions.

Those who have reasonable cause to suspect an adult has suffered abuse are required by law to report it to Adult Protective Services in Tennessee by calling 1-888-277-8366. Callers may remain anonymous. Reports can also be made online at www.reportadultabuse.dhs.tn.gov.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

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