NEW YORK (MainStreet)Elderly Americans have money. Their numbers grow daily. In some cases their mental capacities are diminishing. "It a horrible perfect storm for scams," said lawyer Steve Weisman, who teaches elder planning at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. "The elderly are 12% of the population and 30% of the scam victims."
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates the extent of elder fraud at $2.9 billion - but the federal agency acknowledges that for every case that comes to the attention of law enforcement, 43 go unrecognized.
Add in the size of the country's elderly population - 50 mllion, with another 100,000 Baby Boomers joining the ranks daily - and this becomes a crime with exponential growth.
Elder fraud experts also say - loudly and in many cases angrily - that financial institutions could be doing a lot more to prevent a substantial amount of elder fraud.
Philadelphia lawyer Debra Speyer can top that. A client of hers had an account looted of several hundred thousand dollars, and the culprit, said Speyer, was a bank employee. "My client had deposited an inheritance, and the bank employee had told her, 'only deal with me,'" said Speyer. That's what she did - until one day she discovered her funds were gone. Speyer analyzed the account activity and swiftly realized who the culprit had to be.