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Millions of elderly Americans targeted every year for fraud

Posted November 20, 2019
10:17 am

Written by Sara Goldenberg at 19 News on 11/20/2019 

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Thieves prey on the elderly, targeting millions of people every year, stealing their hard-earned cash and life savings.

So how do you protect yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim?

A conference Wednesday called “Fighting Back Against Elder Fraud” was held at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Social workers, attorneys and caregivers for the elderly learned about resources available in the community to help prevent and recognize fraud.

The conference included speakers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office with the Northern District of Ohio, the FBI, FTC and U.S. Postal Inspector.

Attendees also heard from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Cuyahoga County Attorney’s Office, Cuyahoga County Scam Squad and Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

The conference was held for social workers, attorneys and other people who work with the elderly.

19 News spoke to Sabrina Colbert, a registered nurse with Long Term Care Ombudsman in Cleveland.

Two weeks ago, she came across a scam with a patient.

“There was about six digits involved, but the bank was able to stop it so it didn't go through, which was a blessing,” Colbert said.

Colbert is just one of many people fighting for our elderly every day.

“Someone has to investigate concerns and problems and find a resolution for that resident, so that's what we're currently in the process of doing,” she said.

Brian McDonough is the Elder Justice Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

He said seniors are targeted specifically.

“There is a perception that they have money, that they are alone. And a lot of the scams are sophisticated and refined to target those elderly folks, such as the romance scam or tech support scam,” he said.

McDonough said those types of scams have gone up about 20 percent in the last year.

Here's how you can protect your loved ones.

“Stay in touch with grandma and grandpa and seniors. And if something seems too good to be true, it really is. If grandma or grandpa all of a sudden found a new love interest, is withdrawing money, has met someone online, go ahead and report that,” McDonough said.

“We owe it to our community to look out for our seniors. If you suspect a scam, report it,” he said.

Elderly fraud victims rack up more than $3 billion in losses every year, according to the FBI.

The FBI says it’s likely suspects will find more and more victims as the elderly population continues to grow in the United States.

Click here to read the full story on 19 News.

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