Beware of Fraud

Stealing From the Elderly

Common acts of fraud involve larceny, embezzlement, forgery, issuing false documents or checks, destruction of wills, breach of fiduciary duty, and the violation of applicable consumer protection statutes.
Elderly people are typically financially stable. They tend to own their homes, receive pensions, and may have excellent credit and savings in the bank. They are also quite trusting, a trait that can be attributed to their generation and how they were raised. Con artists know this and exploit it for their own gain. All elderly are at risk, but those suffering from a debilitating illness like Alzheimer's Disease may be especially vulnerable.

Select a topic to learn more about protecting yourself and your loved ones from fraud.

Con artists come in all shapes, sizes, and professions. They can even be fiduciaries, such as lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors. Con artists can be caregivers and, sadly, family members, which is quite unsettling because they often have access to important documents and financial statements. 

Unfortunately, a good deal of financial (and physical) abuse is due to the deceit of a family member. The health guru with the magic cure; the phony unlicensed and roving home repair worker; the slick and unscrupulous telemarketer; an unproven financial advisor; a shady nursing home: They all work diligently toward one goal, to remove money from the hands of the elderly.

The ravages of old age and illness are enough to make the average person seek relief in any form. They may feel that nothing has worked, so why not try something else. The time and money spent chasing a miracle cure could be better spent with legitimate medical professionals who truly have the training to positively affect quality of life. 

Avoid like the plague anyone promising a new cure, no matter how desperate you have become. Many a con-artist has represented himself as a medical professional, whipping up useless concoctions in their "lab" and offering these for sale at very high prices. Or someone may claim that the herbs and vitamins they sell are all you'll ever need. And of course, when the products don't work, or when they harm you, the seller may suggest you "give it some more time" or "buy some more" before they disappear altogether. In the end, all you have are canceled checks and lost opportunities for proper medical care.

Be leery of anyone insisting that you must pay up front and often. Recoil at the invitation of strangers to pay out large sums of money for something they may have to sell. Check with the Better Business Bureau, your state's Attorney General, and even police before embarking on what may be a scam to drain you or your loved one of hard-earned resources. And forget get-rich-quick schemes. You can't be cheated if you know and remember that huge profits don't come easily or that the chances of your being chosen a "winner" in some questionable contest you never even entered are slim to none. 

Though not every company engaging in telemarketing is fraudulent, there are some that count on keeping you on the phone until they can talk you into giving out personal information (i.e. social security number, bank account numbers etc.). Hang up! 

It's not rude or impolite to hang up on someone who intends to do you harm. How will you know who's who? Ask them for the business name, a phone number, an address, and their name. Then tell them you'll call them back after checking with the Better Business Bureau. At this point, they may try to bully you, or they may be very cooperative and polite, which can be disarming. Follow through. Do not let them intimidate you or rush you. Contact someone in authority as soon as possible, and DO NOT enter into any financial agreements before you have done the homework. Better yet, unless you are absolutely certain, do not do any business over the telephone with strangers. And beware of the stranger who, after repeated phone calls, refers to himself or herself as your "friend."

The Grandparent Scam is a scam that targets the elderly in an attempt to steal large sums of money through a wire transfer. Financial losses from this scam are usually several thousand dollars per victim.

A grandparent receives a phone call or email from someone who claims to be their grandchild. (The caller, or another person on the call, may also claim to be a police officer, lawyer, doctor, or someone else with authority.) The person states that he or she is traveling in a foreign country, has gotten into trouble, and needs money wired as soon as possible.

Resist the pressure to react quickly to a call like this. Contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether the story is true. Never wire money based upon a request made over the phone or in an email, especially overseas.

If You Have Been Scammed

Contact your local law enforcement or state consumer protection agency.

File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at

Content Details Source
URL: (No longer valid.)
Source Agency: National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)
Capture Date: 2015-04-17

If you or a loved one are scammed, don't let shame keep you from reporting it to police or other legal authorities. Do your best to keep track of dates, times, names, and the promises made to you by a con artist. Try to document everything that occurred by writing it all down. Quickly get to a person in a position of authority. Your loss may or may not be recovered, but your swift action may stop the con-artist from finding more victims.

For the Alzheimer's sufferer, remembering dates, times, and names might be an impossibility, all the more reason for responsible, trustworthy caregivers to be watchful and careful. Consult a trusted attorney to see if there are ways to prevent you or your loved one from becoming embroiled in some dubious financial scheme. Caring family members have to be certain that the person or people entrusted with the care of their loved one are trustworthy, but even under the best of circumstances it does not hurt to be watchful.

Visit "Scammed. Now What?" for more about what to do after you've been taken.

Local Police

Depending upon the type of fraud, you should consider contacting the local police. If the type of fraud you're reporting doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of local police, they'll tell you.

The Tennessee Consumer Affairs division can be contacted at:

500 James Robertson Pkwy
Davy Crockett Tower
Nashville, TN 37243-0565

Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM CST

Phone: 615.741.4737
Fax: 615.532.4994
Inside TN: 800.342.8385


The Federal Trade Commission 

The FTC offers options for contact at is the federal government’s one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process.