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What are signs that my elderly loved one is being scammed?

For our regular Minnesota readers, last week's post may have raised a question in their minds as to whether they may have elderly loved ones who have been subject to some form of financial scam. In addition to scams involving unnecessary living trusts, elderly Minnesotans can be subject to all kinds of ruses that can leave them in a bad financial state at the end of their lives. This bad financial state in turn means that they have very little to pass on to their loved ones, even if doing so was always their intent.

There are several warning signs that family members can watch for in order to cut off fraudulent behavior before it becomes unmanageable. For one, relatives and other loved ones should take careful note if they discover that their loved one has less money than usual or is making unusual payments against his or her checking account. This can be a sign that they are under some sort of pressure to make unwise financial investments.

Relatives should also take careful note when it seems that a person or a group's relationship with an elderly person suddenly takes a very exclusive turn. Fraudsters will often try to keep their elderly victims isolated from their support circle, such as their relatives and friends.

In general, other warning signs include any investment or request for a gift that is either obviously exaggerated or strikingly lacking in details. In general, any over-the-phone or email proposal should be treated with some suspicion.

Should a relative discover elderly abuse, he or she should take legal steps necessary to prevent it, including contacting law enforcement in some cases. Unfortunately, not all such scams can be prevented altogether, and probate litigation, a guardianship proceeding or trust litigation may be necessary to correct the harm done.

Source: Forbes, "4 warning signs of elder financial abuse," Sonya Stinson, Nov. 6, 2014.

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