Identifying seniors vulnerable to con artists

There have been a lot of stories in the news these days of senior citizens being victimized in elaborate scams (click here, here and here for some examples) or being targeted, but resisting the con artists’ advances (like this lady).

These perpetrators call elderly men and women and claim to be grandchildren in dire straits abroad, stuck in a foreign place needing bail money or cash to pay for a ride home. Or sometimes they call claiming the victim has won huge sums of money in a contest of some sort, and ask for advance payments as “processing fees” to unlock the enormous winnings, which of course never come.

In many or most of the cases, the scammers prey on the elderly, seeking to gain trust through exploiting emotional insecurities, then in follow-up phone calls work to further isolate the victims from caring family members who might otherwise be able to identify the callers as con artists.

On Wednesday at the University of New England’s Portland campus, Maine’s Office of Securities is joining with the school to offer a nationally recognized training program for medical professionals. The aim of the program is to provide physicians and other health care officials with a system to identify elderly patients vulnerable to these scams and connect them with service providers who can help manage their finances or otherwise shield them from abuse.

The training program is running from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the WCHP Lecture Hall, with a reception to follow. The title is “Financial Exploitation of Older Adults: Evidence-Based Screening Tools to Assess for Vulnerability and Resources for Appropriate Referrals — A Clinician’s Toolkit.” Here’s a few paragraphs about the event, as described in an announcement by the Maine Office of Securities:

Presenting the training will be Dr. Robert E. Roush, EdD, MPH, Director of the Texas Consortium Geriatric Education Center, and Judith M. Shaw, JD, Maine Office of Securities Administrator. Administrator Shaw encouraged physicians and others in the medical field who see older adults in a clinical setting to attend this free training — being presented for the first time in Maine.

This unprecedented effort will provide research-based tools to health professionals on how to identify older patients who may be particularly vulnerable to investment fraud and financial exploitation and then to refer these at-risk patients to state securities regulators and adult services professionals for assistance.

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Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.