Elder Abuse is a Growing Epidemic. Are you Trained to Identify the Signs?

On May 2, FBI announced charges against two individuals for allegedly swindling an elderly woman out of her multi-million-dollar property in Harlem, according to this FBI report. But the scheme went even farther than that. The two accused men then used the property to deceive a bank into lending them more than a million dollars, which, of course, they never paid back.

“Sadly, this type of mortgage fraud scheme and exploitation of vulnerable victims have become all too familiar, but as these charges make clear, we are committed to bringing those who perpetrate these types of harmful schemes to justice,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

Unfortunately, elder abuse is a growing epidemic in this country, says Joy Solomon, Director & Managing Attorney at the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention. The Weinberg Center is a comprehensive regional elder abuse shelter, serving eligible seniors who are 60-years and older. Its mission is to provide emergency shelter for victims of elder abuse and to enhance public awareness and knowledge about elder abuse.

Elder abuse remains largely off the public’s radar, despite the fact that it is a widespread problem. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.

In addition to physical abuse and neglect, financial abuse is also a growing problem for seniors, as seen in this more recent case.  

“Financial abuse, with more than $2.6 billion dollars stolen from the elderly annually, has extremely high costs for the victims as well as our society at large,” says  Solomon. “It is great to see federal prosecutors paying attention to this issue and I hope other law enforcement agencies and financial service industries will follow their lead.”

As a law enforcement officer, have you received training about elder abuse? Check out these Visor Cards for indications of elder abuse. The card provides guidance on a series of topics ranging from interview tips to the proper way to screen an older adult for abuse.

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