Elderly people are prime targets for fraudulent activity and scams. The criminals who target elders do so because of their vulnerability, their needs for companionship and financial stability, and their tendency to be caring and giving people.
Fraudulent schemes are created and employed disguised as popular programs or organizations. Fake companies present themselves as reliable entities in which the elderly can trust for their services. These people model their schemes closely after the operations of legitimate corporations or activities with slight changes where the ringleaders create an opportunity for themselves to turn a profit.
By contacting older people through telephone calls, mailing or even door-to-door campaigns, they try to convince them that their cause is legitimate and that they should do what they are being told. In reality, their phone calls and mail messages can falsely tell people they have won a competition with a large cash prize, or door-to-door sales persons can be trying to get their targets to pay for a service they will never receive. Federal and state laws have been created to protect the interest of the consumer when dealing with false sales information and other fraudulent sources.
Being contacted through phone calls or mail messages that explain that an individual has won a sweepstakes, lottery or some other competition may be tantamount to dealing with a fraudulent criminal. These calls or messages will inform targets that they have won a large cash prize and need to act quickly in order to receive their prize or their opportunity will be lost.
These scams will require their “winners” to pay a processing fee or transfer charge in order to receive their winnings. These charges or taxes, instead, are to be sent to an out-of-country bank account, and the scammer will keep this sum of money. Targets will never hear from the fraudulent contest organizers again, their money effectively stolen. Being aware of whom one is contacted by and being cautious of these get-money-quick schemes will help individuals avoid becoming victim to one of these plans.
Health Care/Health Care Insurance Fraud
Practicing health care or health care insurance fraud is punishable by incarceration, heavy fines and even the loss of license to practice health services.
Home Repair Fraud
Door-to-door campaigns can include contractors coming to elderly people’s houses and providing them information to try to convince people to use their business. These contractors or builders are often frauds and are trying to scam money from people who will fall prey to their scheme. They offer immediate services at a discount price, raw materials that are special to their practice and they offer a “one-time’ opportunity. Any company that uses these strategies are most likely fraudulent businesses.
They can try to force their targets into acting quickly on their services by saying that this opportunity is only good that day or that they are lucky winner in their campaign. Elders contemplating home repair should consult with professionals by contacting them through referrals from people they trust and read reviews online or in the papers. One should always do research to check the credentials of any company offering to do a service.
Reverse Mortgage Fraud
The Housing and Urban Development organization (HUD) created reverse mortgage programs from those people who were having trouble meeting the payments for their houses. With the installation of new programs, it opened the door for fraudulent criminals to take advantage of a newly established program that was new to the public.
Reverse mortgage fraud scams convinced people, mostly elders, that by doing a reverse mortgage with their company, they will be safe and have financial stability in the future. They were also convinced to buy insurance and other programs and services from the same program, which ended up taking their targets payment for these services and never fulfilled the promised service. HUD and AARP have established newer programs that will try to limit and eliminate reverse mortgage fraud schemes.
State Consumer Fraud Laws
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has jurisdiction over monitoring consumer fraud and establishing fraud laws for the entire United States. They decide which practices are fair and unfair to the consumer. Common law, or judge-made laws, effect a broad and spectrum for governing over misrepresented sales between businesses and consumers.
Each state has their own restrictions and regulations when deciding over consumer fraud laws and issues. Some states have established specialized agencies and branches of law whose sole purpose is to monitor over fraud laws and consumer fraud. Some states, such as New Jersey, have taken it a step further and created acts and laws in how to deal with deceptive sales practices within their state.