How High Does Your Number Need To Go?

What’s your number? What about your mother? What about your father?

Here, I’m asking how much you’re willing to be scammed out of, or willing to have an elder parent scammed out of, before you take some protective action? Do you have the legal documentation in place for someone else to take over?

Here are a few recent stories reported by elder law attorneys:

1. The scammers told the woman that they were officers investigating her bank for misappropriating her funds, and they needed her assistance to execute a sting operation. They told her that she would have all of her funds returned to her after the sting was completed. After transferring nearly all of her liquid assets, she sold most of her stocks and transferred that money too. She lost over $1,000,000 and now owes the IRS over $200,000 for capital gains tax on the sale of the stock.

2. An elderly client’s spouse has fallen prey to the Jamaican lottery scam and refuses to disengage. The one is convinced that it’s real, and keeps going around the other to send more and more money to the scammers in Jamaica.

3. A client’s parents lost $350,000 to a scam about the Canadian lottery, another $450,000 to the overseas family of a former caregiver, and another $200,000 as an “investment” to a neighbor with a failing business.

So, I ask again — How much money are you willing to lose before someone steps in to stop the fraud? Have you had open discussions on this with family or friends? It isn’t always easy, but those discussions, accompanied by the right legal documents, can help to prevent someone from getting scammed out of thousands of dollars.

Elder financial abuse is on the rise.

Make sure that there’s a system in place for a trusted person to be checking on the accounts of elders on a regular basis. Yes, that means the elder gives up a bit of their privacy and freedom, but in many cases it’s well worth it.