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Understanding the Signs of Elder Financial Abuse

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When you hear about fraud, many people think of businesses being victimized by employees and executives, losing millions of dollars through complicated transactions and dramatic court cases. However, one of the more devastating and increasingly costly frauds doesn’t impact corporations and often doesn’t make the news but causes painful losses to those victimized.

The United States Census Bureau estimates that 1 in 5 Americans will be of retirement age (65+) by 2030, and fraudsters are targeting this group with increasing intensity.  

In early 2019, the United State Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published an extensive study presenting a picture of elder financial abuse in the United States based on data studied between 2013 and 2017. In cases where the victim doesn’t know the fraudster, typically in schemes like IRS impersonation, romance schemes, or other similar activities, the average loss is around $17,000.

However, when the victim knows the fraudster, the average loss increases to $50,000. This could mean that the fraudster is a caregiver, friend, or family member, but, ultimately, in these cases, not only does the victim suffer significant financial loss, but there is also the painful mental toll it takes on a person to have their trust so abused. In addition, these schemes are more costly because the fraudster can access the victim’s credit cards, bank information, and possibly retirement accounts.  

The known losses in 2014 were $931 million, and known losses were $1.7 billion in 2017, representing an increase of 83% in reported losses over four years.

As the population ages and more people turn to family members and caregivers for assistance, the financial losses associated with elder financial abuse will only grow unless we’re all willing to do our part. 

In response to this growing problem and to provide more specialized assistance to victims of elder financial abuse, the Office of the Attorney General formed the Elder Financial Crimes Unit in February 2018, designed to help local law enforcement and local prosecutors investigate and prosecute elder financial cases. This is an excellent step in the fight against elder financial abuse, and the task force has already made great strides, but they know even more can be done, given the right resources.  

Elder financial abuse cases are heavily focused on financial data, something that local law enforcement and local prosecutors rarely have training in, and resources are often not available to hire outside experts.

The Fraud and Forensics group at Maner Costerisan has volunteered with the Attorney General’s office and the Elder Financial Crimes Unit and has extensive experience with these cases.

Maner Costerisan is here to help assist you in times when you feel elder financial abuse might be taking place and provide you with the next steps to receiving justice.

Contact the Maner experts at or by calling us directly.

Source: Consumer Financial Protect Bureau’s Suspicious Activity Reports on Elder Financial Exploitation: Issues and Trends at  


Bethany Verble

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